Today we celebrate Pentecost when God gifted, confirmed, us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus, appearing to the apostles in a locked upper room where they were hiding in fear for their lives, entered, offered a blessing, and breathed on them.
This life-giving breath is the Holy Spirit, imbued with charity, which is the perpetual relational outpouring of love shared between the Father and the Son.
There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord, but perhaps the most challenging to understand is the last. If scripture entreats us to not be afraid, if Saint Pope John Paul II repeatedly lovingly invites us to do the same, why does this gift seem contradictory?
As Father Gregory and Father Patrick discuss in this podcast, St. Thomas Aquinas listed three types of fear: worldly, servile, and filial. While calling us to address different forms of fear in our lives, all three point to this Gift of the Holy Spirit, which ultimately invites us into relationship with God. We are not meant to simply fear Him for our sinfulness, but rather this is a fear which more specifically coexists with our right reverence for Him.
In other words, our fear of losing things, social standing, punishment, and ultimately disappointing God should order us understand that God is greater than all these fears. This Gift reminds us that He has the power to heal all suffering in ways we cannot understand. Fear of the Lord invites us to rest in Him always; to love him as Father and redeemer in whom “we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:28).