Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Isaiah 11:1-3 Gifts of the Spirit

Isaiah 11:1-3 Gifts of the Spirit
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;

These seven Gifts –Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord – are spoken of throughout Scripture, and have been received and explained by saints throughout the ages.

Of these, the 13th century Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas offers us what is perhaps the clearest and most thorough explanation of how the Gifts work in our life.

The Gift of Fear of the Lord (extract)

Why would God want to give us a gift called “Fear of the Lord?”
How could fear ever be good and desirable?
Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that we need the Gift as a kind of first beginning of the perfection of all gifts. For the Fear of the Lord conditions us to show proper reverence to God and to be completely devoted to Him. In this way, Fear of the Lord is a kind of foundation on which the other Gifts are built.

The Fear of the Lord is not a matter of anxiety or terror. Rather it is marked by calm yet eager resolve. How does Fear of the Lord help us to follow God?
Saint Thomas helps us to see how when he points out a common fact of life: before people can begin to do good, they must first withdraw from evil. As we know from our own experience, fear always involves turning away from something we consider a threat to our wellbeing.

In our relationship with God, fear can play a role in two ways.
First, fear can be a fear of punishment (especially Hell) Saint Thomas refers to this kind of fear as “servile” fear or the fear of one who obeys the master because of the possibility of punishment.
Servile fear, however, does not involve the full range of freedom and grace that Our Lord wants us to enjoy. There is a second and holier kind of fear that has to do not with punishment, but with the wonderful good of communion with God.

This second kind of fear is not afraid of punishment but of losing God. Saint Thomas calls this “filial” fear, the fear of sons, since it is the kind of fear a good son should have about ever violating or losing his relationship with his father. To have filial fear means to be eager to avoid the evil of offending God or doing anything that might damage our relationship with Him.

The Holy Spirit’s Gift, Fear of the Lord, is a Gift of filial fear.

Source: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit According to Saint Thomas Aquinas

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