Last night during night prayers, , I happened on verse that kind of caught my eye. It's from the 111th Psalm and says, "To fear the Lord is the first stage of wisdom; all who do so prove themselves wise." Fearing the Lord? Do we do that anymore? I mean, "fear of the Lord" is SO pre-Vatican II when we seemed to be look at God through the eyes of the Old Testament--vengeful, angry . . . wrathful. Doesn't the Psalter know that this is 2010 and being afraid of God was taken out of the church in the 1960's? Why are we still praying this psalm. Now we see God as some sort of weak hippie, sitting around and singing "Kum-by-ya" and pondering the mysteries of the universe.
Don't we? Maybe we don't. Here is the deal. God didn't change forty years ago. Our way of looking at Him may have though. I'm not saying that is a bad thing. It isn't right to see God only as being angry and vengeful. God is love. He is merciful. He is abba-father. He is the one that is always there for us and will never leave us. He doesn't want us to serve him out of fear. He gave us free-will so that our love is given to him freely just as his love is given to us freely.
So what is all this "to fear the Lord is the first stage of wisdom" stuff? Well, I'm certainly not wise. I'm obviously no Thomas Aquinas. I'm no great theologian so take this with a grain of salt. It seems to me that it is good to have a healthy fear of God. After all--everything that we have is given to us from God. Everything we own. Every breath we take. Every beat of our heart. They are all gifts from God and could be taken away from us at his whim. But a God of mercy wouldn't do that, right?
Why be afraid of God? I think we should be afraid of God giving us what we ask. When we sin, we choose to remove God from our lives. As I said before, God wants us to love him freely so He allows us to sin. The more we sin the further removed we are from God. Our fear should be in being without God. We need God in our lives. All of the joy in our life comes from him and the thought of not having God around should share the crud out of us. Life without God is literally Hell.
So fear of God is good. Fear of the fact that he will allow us to go away from him but he will never push us away as long as we want to come back. God IS love. God IS mercy. God gave himself up to die on a cross so that we can be with him. We are able to be reconciled with him in the sacrament of confession. For that we should rejoice and be glad.