I have often wondered what is meant by fearing God. The obvious meaning seems to be afraid of God. But if God is our Father, and He seeks to be close to us, how can He demand we be afraid of Him?
In the second reading of today’s Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, Saint Hilary gives us one interpretation of what “fear of the Lord” may be referring to (italics in the original):
But of the fear of the Lord this is what is written: Come, my children, listen to me, I shall teach you the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord has then to be learned because it can be taught. It does not lie in terror, but in something that can be taught, it does arise from the fearfulness of our nature; it has to be acquired by obedience to the commandments, by holiness of life and by knowledge of the truth.
As such, perhaps fearing the Lord is a reverence towards Him that develops from cleaving close to His word and will. And so while anyone can be afraid of God, it takes a faithful one to properly fear Him.
For Thursday, March 8, anno Domini 2007, Thursday of the Second Week of Lent, Commemoration of Saint John of God, sixteenth day in Lent, fourteenth day of penitence of Lent.