June 23, 2008

Who fears God is never afraid

VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"In today's Gospel," he said, "we find two invitations from Jesus: on the one hand, 'to have no fear' of men, and on the other 'to fear' God. Thus we are stimulated to reflect on the difference that exists between human fears and fear of God. Fear is a natural aspect of life. From childhood we experience forms of fear that then reveal themselves as imaginary and disappear; later other fears emerge which have specific roots in reality, these must be faced and overcome with human commitment and trust in God.

"But," the Pope added, "there exists - and above all today - a deeper form of fear, an existential fear, which sometimes spills over into anguish. It is born of a sense of emptiness, associated with a certain culture that is permeated with widespread theoretical and practical nihilism. Faced with the broad ... panorama of human fears, the Word of God is clear: those who 'fear' God 'are not afraid.' Fear of God, which Scripture defines as 'the beginning of true hope,' means to have faith in Him, and sacred respect for His authority over life and over the world."

"Those who fear God are serene even amidst the storms because God, as Jesus revealed to us, is a Father full of mercy and goodness. Those who love Him are not afraid. ... Believers, then, are afraid of nothing, because they know they are in the hands of God, they know that evil and the irrational will not have the last word, but that the one Lord of the world and of life is Christ, the Word of God incarnate."

Finally, the Pope turned his attention to St. Paul who, "strong in the presence of Christ and comforted by His love, did not even fear martyrdom."

Then, recalling that on June 28 he will inaugurate a Jubilee Year commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles, the Holy Father concluded: "May this great spiritual and pastoral event also arouse in us a renewed faith in Jesus Christ Who calls us to announce and bear witness to His Gospel, without fear."

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