“With the gift of the fear of God,” said the Pope in Wednesday’s general audience, “we will conclude our series on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean being afraid of God; we are well aware that He is our Father; that He loves us and wishes our Salvation, so there is no need to be afraid of Him! Fear of God, however, is the gift of the Spirit that reminds us of how small we are before God and His love, and that our well-being rests in surrendering ourselves to His hands with humility, respect and trust”.
“When the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, it infuses us with consolation and peace. … In this moment, we understand well how our awe before God assumes within us the form of docility, recognition and praise, filling our hearts with hope”. Pope Francis commented that when we are unable to grasp God’s plan, we realise that we are not able to ensure happiness and eternal life for ourselves. “However, it is precisely in the experience of ours limits and our poverty that the Spirit comforts us and allows us to perceive that the only important thing is to let ourselves be guided by Jesus into the arms of the Father”.
The Pope explained that we need this gift of the Holy Spirit because “it enables us to be aware that everything comes from His grace and that our true strength lies solely in following the Lord Jesus and letting the Father bestow upon us His goodness and His mercy. … The fear of God, therefore, does not make us into timid, submissive Christians, but instead generates courage and strength in us. It is a gift that makes us into convinced and enthusiastic Christians, who do not submit to the Lord out of fear but rather because they are moved and conquered by his love”. Similarly, he noted that this gift is also a warning against sin. “When we set out on the wrong path, when we blaspheme against God, when we take advantage of others, when we act tyrannically, when we live only for money, vanity, power and pride, then the holy fear of God alerts us to this and warns us that in this way we will not be happy and will come to no good. Do you think that a corrupt person will be happy in the other life?”, he asked. “No, all the fruit of his corruption has corrupted his heart and it will be difficult for him to present himself before the Lord”. He referred to those who make a living from human trafficking, slavery, or the production of weapons. With regard to the latter, he said that they are not interested in the Word of God since they “fabricate death, they are merchants of death and make death into a trade”, and expressed his hope that “the fear of God may make them understand that one day everything will come to an end and they will have to account for themselves before God”.
Before concluding, the Pope read part of Psalm 34: “’This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them’. Let us ask the Lord the grace to unite our voice with that of the poor, to welcome the gift of the fear of God and to be able to recognise that we are clothed in mercy and God’s love, that He is our Father. May it be so”.