The Only Person We Need To Fear Is Our Father
Friday of Week 28 in Ordinary Time - Cycle I
Rom. 4:1-8 & Lk. 12:1-7
We refer to Abraham as “our father in faith” in the First Eucharistic Prayer which means that we trace the origin of our faith in the one true God back to him. It also means that Abraham is a model to us of how to live a life of faith.
God made extraordinary promises to Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations and that the covenant with him would never be broken. Though Abraham was an old man, and his wife Sarah was barren and well past child bearing age, he had a son. Life was looking bright for Abraham - but we know God asked him to sacrifice the life of Isaac.
Abraham was in tremendous turmoil: it was terrible enough to be asked to sacrifice his son but what disturbed him the more was that the death of his son would seem to make impossible God’s promises about descendants.
When Abraham led Isaac to the place of sacrifice on the mountain top, he could not see the bright sunshine of hope but only the dark clouds of confusion which faith alone could penetrate. As the old man stood with the knife clutched in his trembling hand, he was in mental anguish over how this sacrifice would make sense. But because his faith was firm and unwavering, God sent his angel to stay the hand of sacrifice. Isaac's life was spared, and a ram was substituted in his place.
Abraham shows us that faith involves the commitment of our entire selves to God. It is a trust, a reliance, a confident assurance, a firm conviction that God is good, that He is a true Father to us in every circumstance of our Iives. In the First Eucharistic Prayer the priest says the words, “You know how firmly we believe and dedicate ourselves to you.” How sad it would be if our faith were weak and wavering … a very poor offering to make to God!
Fear compels us to escape from whatever it is that is making us afraid. However, the divine gift of fear of the Lord has the opposite effect of drawing us closer to God. For this Godly fear comes with an understanding that God is far greater than we are and yet loves us deeply. He is supremely powerful, filled with all wisdom and knowledge, yet He cares for us as a Father cares for His children. As a child looks to its father for guidance and protection, so we can look to our heavenly Father to act graciously and generously on our behalf, even as we hold Him in the deepest reverence and awe.
By cautioning His disciples about whom to fear, Jesus challenged them, and us, to an examination of conscience and motivation. Are we driven by what other people think about us? Are we afraid to face our sins and deficiencies? Do we fear other people? Do we fear ourselves? Or do we fear the possibility that we might lose sight of our Father and wander into sin and separation from Him?
Immediately after He told His disciples to fear the One who can throw them, body and soul, into Hell, Jesus assured them of the value the Father places on His people. Far from moving us away from God, our godly fear - born of reverence for Him and gratitude for our redemption - should compel us to run to Him every day and ask Him to purify us of all that is displeasing to Him. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us deeply. We should not be concerned with others' opinions of us. Our only concern should be whether we are growing closer to the One who is our life and our hope.
Today, let us rejoice with the psalmist that our sins have been forgiven (Ps 32:1-2). Let us ask God to open our eyes to His greatness and majesty so that we will obey Him out of godly fear. May we know what a privilege it is to be called sons and daughters of God!
Lord, we rejoice in You today! You are worthy of all our trust and adoration. Teach us to come before You with reverence and fear, humbly surrendering our hearts to Your love. We ask God to make our faith in Him firm and intrepid and our dedication complete.