It’s really a year-round trap.
The lie that we need to be a better person for God to love us. Or that if we could reach the idea of perfection we have in our minds, God would like us more.
We’re right to think our sins keep us from God. But our sins do not keep God from us. His infinite love is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The reason for becoming more virtuous is to enable us to love God more, not the other way around.
King David had an innocent man killed to cover up his violation of the man’s wife (2 Sam:2-17), and when God called him on it, he repented. God called him “a man after my own heart,” which shows us that no sin, if we receive God’s healing, can keep us from the closest intimacy with Him.
God loves us to boldly be ourselves, like David, and lean completely on Him for what we need, especially for mercy. If we’re doing that, we have nothing to fear.
Gift of fear?
But what about the “gift” of fear of the Lord? “Fear” is sometimes translated as “reverence.” St. Hilary of Poitiers explained it this way: “Fear of God consists wholly in love, and perfect love of God brings our fear of him to its perfection. Our love for God is entrusted with its own responsibility: to observe his counsels, to obey his laws, to trust his promises.
“Let us hear what Scripture says: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God and walk in his ways and love him and keep his commandments with your whole heart and your whole soul, so that it may be well for you?”
So that it may be well for you.
Why do we fall into the trap of seeing God more as a prison guard than a caring Father? Do we really think we can “impress” the one who made the whole universe?
Remembering a beloved parent, teacher, or coach and how we feared to disappoint them because of our respect for them is a better way to envision “fear of the Lord.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta summed it up this way: “He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
Let’s ponder this week how much we’re loved by God, and in this love deepen the meaning of our Lenten sacrifices.