St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A20

Terror; dread; anxiety; panic; afraid; scared; trepidation; intimidation; gut-wrenching.  What do all those words have in common? They are all synonyms of the word FEAR.

Now there are many things we fear, many things to be afraid of, to be anxious about, to be scared of, to be terrified of, to view with trepidation, or to be intimidated by: for instance COVID-19; failure in school, at work or in relationships; facing the unknown; and my personal favorite, writing and delivering homilies.

All the readings today speak of fear, either directly or indirectly. But I want to concentrate on one aspect: FEAR OF THE LORD.

In the reading from Proverbs we read: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”[1]; in the Responsorial Psalm it says “Blessed are those who fear the Lord”[2]; Paul addresses the fear of the “day of the Lord”; and in the Gospel the one who buried the talent out of fear and gave it back (a bit dirty, I imagine) to the Master who was none too pleased with him.

Are we called to live in fear of our God? The Scriptures use the phrase “fear of the Lord” many times. But the expression has another meaning: awe at the Almighty’s grandeur. As Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: “How deep are the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable his judgments! How unsearchable his ways!”[3] But, for some reason beyond our comprehension, God loves us human beings! It is marvelous to think about, giving the one who does a sense of wonder.

In preparing for Confirmation, we learn about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are seven but we substitute the words “Wonder and Awe” for “Fear of the Lord” in the seventh gift, conveying that all of us who have confirmed should not “fear the Lord” in the sense of the words I started my homily; but rather stand in amazement - wonder and awe – in the sight of so much love and concern that God showers upon us in the created world of which we are called to be stewards and in each other who are made in the image of God and are to be respected and valued in our uniqueness.

I’ll close with a quote from Psalm 8.        

When I see the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – what are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals, that you care for them? … O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!”[4]


[1] Proverbs 31: 30

[2] Refrain to the Responsorial Psalm

[3] Romans 11:33

[4] Psalm 8: 5, 10

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