This weekend at Mass, the Church calls us to pray with portions of Psalm 128, one of the so-called “Songs of Ascents” in the Book of Psalms. Biblical scholars teach us that these brief and ancient psalms (120-134) were sung by pilgrims traveling the long road to Jerusalem or by faith leaders climbing the steepest steps to preside at services at the Temple in Jerusalem.
For us, these “Songs of Ascent” remind us that we are beckoned to grow in faith, to reach for God in prayer, and to remember always God’s boundless love and mercy. Through our prayer, fellowship, and service, we are beckoned to ascend toward God and toward the heavens. And so, this weekend, united with believers throughout the world, we cry out: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord!”
Fear? Should we really fear the Lord? What about God’s endless love? What about God’s tender mercy? These are good questions that deserve some discernment and prayer. And yet, quite simply, yes, we should fear God – but we should not fear him as we might fear the darkness, the unknown, or some horrible creature in a movie thriller.
Rather, we should be struck by God’s awesome power to create heaven and earth! Our God is Creator of all things! Our God is Master of the Universe! As creatures, we can only shrink at the thought of all that God has done and can do in our lives! We should be humbled by God’s limitless love for his creation – so limitless that he gave sent his only Son to live among us, to share in our sufferings, and to save us!
Awesome power. Limitless love. These are easy phrases to write and to repeat. But when we really think about them, these phrases boggle the mind. When we really pray about them, these phrases overwhelm us. God’s awesome power and limitless love leave us astonished, astounded, baffled, and brought to our knees in abject wonder. Mere words cannot easily express this level of wonder and reverence. And so, the psalmist writes that we “fear” the Lord.
Earlier this week, the students who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this school year in the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport participated in our annual “Confirmation Retreat.” Upon receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, each of these students will be offered the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among these is the “Fear of the Lord.”
This weekend, let us pray together for our Confirmation students and for their catechists and sponsors. Let us pray that all of our hearts and minds will be open to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that each one of us, but especially our confirmandi, will rejoice in the awesome power and limitless love of God. And let us pray together that each one of us will rejoice in singing with heart and voice: “Blessed are those who fear the Lord!” Amen! Peace and blessings to all!
Founded in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Our collaborative is comprised of Saint Ann Church in Gloucester, Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Gloucester, Saint Joachim Church in Rockport, and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. We are a Roman Catholic faith community united in prayer, fellowship, and service. For more information, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us! All are welcome!