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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

“The will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thess 5:18) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month


Divine Call

Piety and fear of the Lord

By Fr. Jacob Arimpur VC

We have been reflecting over the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. We have already seen some of the basic things about the first five gifts of the Holy Spirit in the past two months. This month we look into the remaining two gifts – Piety and Fear of the Lord.

Piety: It is actually a sense of Justice. Justice in regard to God. The pious person gives to God what God is owed. What we owe God is thanks and praise because God has made us. And so the great act of Justice is I return thanks and praise to God in gratitude for His gift of existence. Think of someone who goes to the Eucharistic celebration regularly and says, “Oh! I don’t get much out of Mass.” The pious person is not going to the Mass to get a spiritual thrill or to get any material profit. Instead he is going to the Eucharist as an act of piety, as an act of Justice.

St Luke is explaining what Piety is with the help of a beautiful example. He writes when Mary and Joseph went to the temple to present child Jesus to the Lord they met a very old woman named Anna. She was a very pious lady not because she never left the temple but because she was there with the desire to worship God. She fasted and prayed night and day not because she wanted something more from God but she did all that as an act of praise and thanksgiving. When we speak about piety the images that often come to our mind gives a very sentimental picture about this great virtue. A person with a rosary in hand or someone lighting candles in the Church or a devotee spending much time praying with folded hands and bent knees. All such actions will become acts of Piety only and only if it is done with the intention of thanking and praising God. We read in the Bible that the angels are offering worship and adoration to God all the time. It is not that God is commanding them to do so rather it is a spontaneous act of justice from the part of the angels towards God. If the gift of Piety is really at work in us then we’ll know that we’ve this obligation to praise God.

Fear of the Lord: This might sound bad in our context and we might think how is fear and love for the Lord compatible with each other. There are so many places in the Bible where we are demanded to fear God. The whole duty of everyone is to fear God (Ecc 12:13). There are two types of Fear and when we know the distinction we will know how important it is to fear God in order to lead a life pleasing to God.

There is a servile fear which is fear of the slave. Think of a slave or a servant who is afraid of punishment. The Bible is not demanding from the faithful such a kind of fear. In the parable of the prodigal son, we read about the elder brother who says, “All these years I have been working like a slave for you”. It is true that the elder brother did not leave the father but even then he could not experience the joy and peace because he was serving the father out of servile fear.

Then there is something called filio fear. It is more like respect. It is the fear that the son has in regard to his relation with the father. Filio means son. So filio fear is the fear of losing my right relationship to my father. It is the fear which does not allow me to do anything that would disappoint my father. It is the fear of losing this intense friendship and relationship. I don’t want to do the wrong thing because I know it is going to hurt my father and it is going to affect our relationship negatively. In that sense filio fear is something we should all have. Fear of the Lord is the deep respect for God and for the commands of God. It springs out of the willingness to not break the relationship.  If we have this kind of fear we’ll be able to conquer every temptation to sin that we face in our daily life. It is not out of fear for punishment that I avoid committing a sin but it is because I fear doing something that will compromise my relationship with God.

So the great gifts of piety and fear of the Lord enables a person to live his/her mission. Every baptised person is destined for a mission. There’s a definite task that God wants us to do. Now what gives us the power to do that mission are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let us make it a point to keep asking for these gifts to be active in our lives because the Lord says, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Mt 7:7,8).

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