Monday, June 27, 2011

Holy Humility

“Fear of the Lord warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, which is formed with the faithful in the womb.” Sirach 1: 10, 12

The seventh and final gift of the Spirit we receive in Baptism and Confirmation is the gift of Fear of the Lord. When you read that what goes through your mind? What emotions does it stir in you? For quite a few modern sensibilities the notion of fearing God seems antiquated or ignorant. Aren’t we supposed to love God? Yes. Does God really want us to wander through life cowering from Him? Of course not. I think it helps to better understand this special gift if we refer to it as “Holy Humility”.

Ultimately this gift helps us to recognize that there is a God and we are not Him. The new atheism, steeped in pride, would say that “there is a god, and he always agrees with me”. This gift gives us the humility needed to realize our need for a Savior and the ability to conform our wills to His. It helps us to be humble enough to admit that we cannot save ourselves; to admit that no matter how hard we try, work, scheme, and dream, we are not strong enough, we are not good enough, we are not smart enough. And that is OK, because He is.

It gives us the ability to place ourselves in His hands and trust in Him. If the gift of Piety helps us from making the things of this world our god, then fear of the Lord helps us from making ourselves god.

In some places, including the rite of Confirmation, this gift is referred to as “awe and wonder” and we should certainly have a sense of awe and wonder before God. But God is greater than a beautiful sunset, or a rainbow or the Grand Canyon, is He not? When the tsumani hit Japan recently, people were rightly terrified at the 30-60 foot high walls of water rushing in at them destroying everything in its path. So doesn’t it make sense that we should have a respectful fear of the God that can stop that wall of water in its tracks? And doesn’t this go beyond awe and wonder?

We all need something bigger than ourselves, more powerful than ourselves, more holy than ourselves; to show us the way, to guide us, to give us strength and to save us from ourselves. Without this gift of holy humility we would be lost in the arrogance of self and reject the mercy of God.

Dear Jesus, help me to worship You with humility and reverent fear, knowing that You are all-powerful and all-merciful. Help me to see that You are greater than my sin and doubt and that I can place all of my trust in You. Amen.

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