05 August 2017: Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom


Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Lv. 25: 1, 8-17; Gospel: Mt.  14: 1-12

We fear so many things in life – from cockroaches to calamities that it has become a branch of scientific study (phobia). We also fear other people and what they may think or say about us. It may happen that due to human respect, we do things which are not morally right to save our name and fame.

In today’s Gospel, we have the example of Herod who feared – first, the people and refrained from murdering John the Baptist, but later, out of fear for his guests and for his good name, he put John to death. In the first instance, fear saved him from doing what was wrong/sin, but in the second instance fear drove him to do the same wrongful thing from which he had refrained. This is what happens when we fear people – our ethics keep changing according to the morality of the people whom we fear. Then what should we do? Should fear have a place in our life?

God himself responds to the question in Leviticus 25: 17 saying “You shall fear your God” and John the Baptist lived out those words in his life. He feared God alone, nothing else. Jesus meant the same when he said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28). Our earthly life is only a sojourn, compared to eternal life, it accounts for nothing at all.

Let us then look into our lives. What do I fear? – people or places or things (living or non-living) or times? Or do I fear God?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Ps 111:10)

Dn. Anto John Jagadish

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