What is your relationship with God?

We are taught, typically during preparation for the sacrament of confirmation, of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. It is that seventh one that often gives us pause for we find it difficult to reconcile our belief in a loving, caring God and Father with the imagery of terror and dread, of retribution and punishment.

If we were to read Isaiah in its original Hebrew we would discover that two words are used that can be translated as fear: pachad and yirah. The word פַּ֫חַדpachad (pakh’-ad) means fear but is perhaps better translated as terror or dread as in “Get behind the rocks, hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty” [Is 2:10] or “Men will go into caves in the rocks and into holes in the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he arises to overawe the earth” [Is 2;19]. Certainly, when God comes to judge the living and the dead, those who do evil and show no remorse will dread the Lord and be filled with terror at His wrath.

The word יִרְאָהyirah (yir-aw’) means fear, piety or reverence and is used when Isaiah speaks of the gifts of the spirit. “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord” [Is 11:2-3].

We can experience fear both exteriorly as well as internally. Exterior fear occurs when some event, person or thing, outside of our control, threatens our well-being. The recent tornado in Oklahoma City is a useful example. Those who were in the tornado’s path experienced great terror and fear from the external force of nature. Internal fear occurs when we are placed in a situation or presence of someone or something that is greater than our self; the feeling that you might have when introduced to Blessed Pope John Paul II or invited to sit and converse with Blessed Mother Teresa.

Fear of the Lord, the gift of the Holy Spirit, at its core includes reverence and awe: “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all who dwell in the world show reverence” [Ps 33:8]; hatred of evil: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” [Prov 8:13]; and obedience to God: “He shall keep it with him and read it all the day of his life that he may learn to fear the Lord, his God, and to heed and fulfill all the words of this law and these statutes” [Deut 17:19].

Fear (yirah) of the Lord calls for one to have a loving and intimate relationship with God. Above all else, when we experience fear of the Lord, we demonstrate our love and respect for God. We revere and are in awe of Him who creates us, loves us, and cares for us. We have a deep and profound feeling of unworthiness and humility to be in His presence.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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