5th Sunday of Easter
Acts 9:26-31; 1Jn 2:18-24; Jn 15:1-8
This Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles offers us an idyllic vision of the early Church at peace. Luke the evangelist and the author of Acts remarks that the entire Church “walked in the fear of the Lord”. What exactly does that mean?
It certainly does not mean that we ought to be afraid of God. If we see God as a distant, arbitrary or punishing deity, than we have not yet met the God of the Abrahamic people (Jews, Christians, Muslims) who reveals Him/Herself most completely in the risen Christ. The God we worship who has passionately embraced us in a relationship of unconditional love. As St. Paul says, “Perfect love drives away all fear.”
“Fear of the Lord” certainly does not mean being afraid of Church authority. The Holy Spirit is blowing powerfully these days, demanding that the laity take their place in the Church in mature relationship with the heirarchy. It is to be a relationship marked by mutual respect, Christian charity and a deep commitment to cooperating with the Spirit as She smashes the remnants of Fuedalism and a Medieval world view so that the People of God can embrace the call of the third millennium in the life of the Church.
What “fear of the Lord’ does refer to is a sense of Awe, a sense of how much greater God is than us. A recognition that God has not only created the world, but loves it into being and sustains it each and every moment. A realization that , left to themselves, even our greatest efforts amount to nothing but, when united with the Spirit, even our most humble endeavors have the potential to radically transform the world.
Lose yourself in something greater than yourself this weekend.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)