The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
We rightly fear the omnipotent One. He made everything out of nothing. His power dwarfs our capacity to conceive it. Everything exists solely by His pleasure. Without His will sustaining us–and sustaining the sky, and the earth, and the air–without His constant gift of existence, everything would crumble, collapse, disintegrate, vanish.
Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone…Awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21:6)
The one thing that separates us from chaos and ultimate nothingness is: the divine good pleasure. True wisdom involves acknowledging this fact. If we find ourselves enjoying good things in life, it’s because God has made them and keeps them in existence, to give as gifts to us.
The wise person fears the awesomeness of the great Giver of all, Who is truly, wonderfully, magnificently good. His power dwarfs us, and so does His goodness. We do not measure up to it. Rather, we receive from His largesse as unworthy beneficiaries. He blesses us so abundantly because His love flows so freely. Not because we have any claim on Him or any “rights” before Him.
We fear Him. But, in spite of all this, He makes amazingly friendly and intimate promises to us. “Fear nothing,” He says, “because I myself will give you wisdom.”
The God we rightly fear does not choose to tower above us. Rather, in the midst of all the great flux of events over which He exercises sovereign control, He moves toward us and embraces us. By uniting Himself with us in Christ, God Almighty has Personally entered into His own creation, fragile as it all is. He meets us right here, and clasps us to His bosom. He makes us His friends, the friends of the King.
By the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we participate in His sovereignty over all things. We share His permanent solidity, His serene transcendence. Created things pass. We human beings, too, are created things that naturally pass. But, by His grace, God has joined us to His permanent Self. So we do not pass, but rather we endure forever, with Him.
Divine Mercy. Pope Francis gave a book-length interview, published under the title The Name of God is Mercy. The Holy Father puts it like this: “Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces; it is God giving Himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive.”
Next Sunday, the Jubilee Year of Mercy will come to an end. But of course the end of the Year of Mercy doesn’t mean that, starting a week from Monday, a Year of Strict and Severe Judgment will begin. No. God’s mercy endures forever.
Now, we Americans have elected as our president a man who, by any reasonable estimation, is simply not a good person. I don’t mean that, had the outcome on Tuesday been different, we would then have elected a good person. I’m not saying that. But that’s all moot now anyway.
The man who will assume our presidency in January has lived the life of a sybarite, a liar, and a braggart. That’s not all. There’s another two-syllable word that begins with ‘b’ which suits him perfectly. But I won’t use that word in pulpit oratory. I guess we have had unsteady, lying braggarts for presidents before. And we somehow survived.
But the whole business of government involves co-operation. And the whole business of co-operation requires trust. And we have a president who I, for one, wouldn’t trust with five dollars of my own money for even fifteen minutes.
Christ is king. Prayer works. It just doesn’t always work in the way that we, with our small minds, expect. We have, as a country, gotten ourselves into a very serious mess. Getting out of it will cost us a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Let’s have the humility to admit that we got the president we deserve. We elected a man of no character; therefore, we must have serious character flaws ourselves.
Let’s close the Year of Mercy by humbly acknowledging this. Taking collective responsibility for the great act of irresponsibility that America as a whole has induldged in, with the year-and-a-half-long mess of a presidential election that landed us in the uncharted territory where we are now.
If we put our foreheads to the ground before God and admit, Yes, Lord, this is our fault! We find ourselves lost in the woods, and we got lost by our own nonsense! –If we do that, then we can hope for divine mercy and gracious assistance from heaven. Gracious assistance to help this body politic through the entire weird, unpredictable ordeal that we now face.