During his general audience Pope Francis spoke on the Holy Spirit’s gift of Fear of the Lord, saying it does not mean we should be afraid of God, but rather serves as a reminder to do the right thing.
“Fear of the Lord is an ‘alarm.’ When a person is not on the right path, he settles himself in evil,” the Pope explained in his June 11 audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“When he distances himself from God, when he takes advantage of everyone, when he lives attached to money, to vanity, to power or pride, then the holy fear of God draws his attention: You will not be happy like this, this way you will end badly.”
Continuing his instruction on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Pope greeted the crowds gathered to hear his weekly address, saying “Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we now turn to the last of these gifts: fear of the Lord.”
“The fear of the Lord, the gift of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean being afraid of God, since we know that God is our Father that always loves and forgives us,” the Roman Pontiff observed.
It “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace” he continued, adding that “when the Holy Spirit lives in our heart, he instills consolation and peace in us.”
This peace, Pope Francis noted, is “the attitude of those who place all their trust in God and feel protected, like a child with his father,” explaining that through fear of the Lord “we become, as Jesus asks us, like little children, trusting in the goodness and the protection of our heavenly Father.”
The Pope also described how this gift “allows us to imitate the Lord in humility and obedience, not with a resigned and passive attitude, but with courage and joy.”
“He turns us into Christians convinced that we are not subject to the Lord out of fear, but rather conquered by his paternal love.”
Referring to the fear of the Lord as an “alarm” that awakens us “to the presence of sin in our lives” and reminds us that one day we will “be held accountable to the just Judge,” the pontiff stated that when we start to sin, this spiritual gift can help direct the faithful back on the right path.
Pope Francis then prayed that the fear of the Lord would allow all “to understand that one day everything will finish and we will have to be accountable to God.”
“Let us pray that the fear of God, together with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, will renew us in faith and constantly remind us that in God alone do we find our ultimate happiness, freedom and fulfilment.”
Following his address, Pope Francis drew attention to the World Day against the exploitation of child labor, which will take place Thursday June 12.
“Tens of millions of children are forced to work in degrading conditions, exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, as well as to abuse, ill-treatment and discrimination,” he noted.
“I sincerely hope that the international community can extend social protection of minors to eradicate this scourge.”
Encouraging those present to “renew our commitment, especially families, to ensure the tutelage of every boy’s and every girl’s dignity and enhance the chance to grow up healthy,” the Pope stated that “a serene childhood allows children to look with confidence to life and the future.”
Pope Francis then greeted pilgrims present from various countries around the world, including Scotland, Sweden, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, England and the United States.