Today’s first reading tells us about the perfect wife. She has many noble qualities. She is prudent, industrious, generous, faithful, trustworthy. Then, there is this one quality that shines above the rest; “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. Even though Proverbs 31 is about the perfect wife, we can think of it in terms of a believer, and his or her relationship with God. Then, it will show us that the greatest quality of a believer is the fear of the Lord.
The theme that runs across today’s readings seems to be the fear of the Lord. Even though fear itself is considered a negative emotion, fear of the Lord is considered a positive attribute for a believer. We can see it throughout the Bible; Moses selects men who fear the Lord to be the leaders (Exodus 18:21), fear of God will keep you from sinning (Exodus 20:20), the main reason that people fall into sin is because they do not fear the Lord (Romans 3:18).
Fear of the Lord and being afraid of God are two different things. Fear of the Lord is the result of a love relationship with Him. It comes from a place of awe, love, intimacy. We are so connected to Him intimately, that sin loses its hold on us. We face temptations by clinging on to Him for strength to give inner responses. When we fall into sin we cannot wait to get back to God; we repent, trust in the forgiveness and mercy of God to cleanse us as we return to His heart.
Fear of the Lord, gives us the opportunity to make a U-turn. Being afraid of God on the other hand, is a result of living a self-centred life. It drives us further away from God. We are unable to trust in His goodness, so we avoid Him and take matters into our hands.
In today’s Gospel proclamation we read about the Parable of the Talents. This parable teaches us that as stewards of the resources that God has given us, we are to use them fully to serve Him.
As I was reflecting in the light of the fear of God, I saw another side of the parable. When the Master entrusted his wealth to the servants, he did not give them any specific instructions about investing.
The first two however, simply knew what they had to do. They knew what pleased him and what did not. It is obvious that the third servant did not know the Master well enough as the first two servants.
He trusted his own understanding of the Master; a hard man, harvesting where he had not sown and gathering where he had not scattered seed… he was afraid of the Master and he made a wrong judgment that displeased him.
I find the actions of the third servant familiar. When we are disconnected from God our hearts are filled with many fears; we get scared when our securities are threatened. Just like the third servant we try to protect them by controlling them tightly.
When I was told that there was a possibility for my son to move to another country, my first reactions were sadness, followed by anger and even emotions of betrayal. I was angry at him, I was angry at my husband and I was angry at God.
Eventually, when I reluctantly opened my heart to the Lord in prayer, I began to see that I had been holding on to my son for comfort, for security and even for joy.
As the Lord started to minister to me, I started to experience a greater comfort, a greater security and a greater joy in the Lord. I began to see the hand of God in the whole situation. I also saw objecting to the doors that were opening for my son would in fact be standing against the plans of God Himself. Once again my heart was allowing the fear of the Lord to rule, and I had found the U-turn to return to God.
In his letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul says, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober”.
The world around us is covered in darkness and it has become the norm. It tells us that if we are to be happy, we need to be part of it. It tells us that a self-centred life is the way to happiness.
Sacrifice, honesty, commitment and living as God-fearing people is seen as weakness. The Lord is reminding us that He is the light of the world and those who follow Him will never walk in darkness.
Prayer: Abba Father, when temptations become too powerful for me, let the fear of the Lord rule over my heart. Amen.
Source : On our Knees publication