Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Those who have "responsibility to others and allow themselves to be corrupted" or "live off the proceeds of human trafficking and slave labor" or "manufacture weapons to foment wars" will not be able to bring their "money, power nor pride" into the afterlife. Instead they will have to "answer to God", for the evil they have done. This was Pope Francis' warning during his general audience catechesis today, dedicated to "fear of God", the last of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, outlined over the past few Wednesdays.
This warning of having to answer to God for our sins, was added to an appeal delivered before his greeting in Italian, against the exploitation of child labor, which is marked tomorrow on the World Day against Child Labor. "Millions of children - he said - millions of children - he repeated - are forced to work in degrading conditions, exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, as well as abuse, mistreatment and discrimination." "I fervently hope - he continued showing a red flyer that says 'All together against child labor' - that the international community can extend social protection of minors to eradicate this scourge. We must all renew our commitment, especially families, to ensure every child dignity and a healthy growth. A serene childhood allows children to look with confidence at life and the future".
The Pope, who refreshed following a slight indisposition over the past few days, was already in the Nervi Hall this morning before 9am to greet the sick who were brought there to avoid the heat. The Pope himself said: "We thought it was better that you were here, do not worry ... it is a bit 'cooler, No? It's really boiling under that sun!". Francis then immersed himself in the heat of the day as he toured, as usual with his open topped jeep, among the 40 thousand people in St Peter's Square.
The gift of fear of God, he said to them, "does not mean being afraid of God, no, not that! We know well that God is a Father who loves us and wants our salvation, and always forgives forever! So there is no reason to be afraid of him! Fear of God, however, is the gift of the Spirit who reminds us how small we are before God and His love, and that our wellbeing rests in our abandoning ourselves with humility, respect and confidence into His hands. This is the fear of God: this abandonment to the goodness of our Father who loves us so much".
The Holy Spirit "leads us to feel as we are, that is small, with that attitude - recommended by Jesus in the Gospel - of those who place all their concerns and expectations in God and feel embraced and supported by His warmth and protection, just as a child with its father". This enables us to "understand how the fear of God takes on the form of docility in us, of gratitude and praise, by filling our hearts with hope. Often we are unable to grasp God's plan, and we realize that we cannot assure our own happiness or eternal life. It is by experiencing our limitations and our poverty, though, that the Holy Spirit comforts us and makes us feel like the only important thing is to be led by Jesus to the arms of His Father".
Fear of God
"opens hearts", "makes us aware that everything comes from grace
and that our true strength lies only in following the Lord Jesus and letting
the Father bestow upon us His kindness and mercy. We must open our heart for
the goodness and mercy of God to come to us. "
But following the Lord "with humility, docility and obedience" because pervaded by Fear of God does not mean having a "passive and resigned, even whiny behavior, but one of wonder and joy, the joy of a child who recognizes that it is served and loved by Father. Fear of God, therefore, does not make us shy, submissive Christians, but it generates courage and strength in us! It is a gift that makes us convinced, enthusiastic, Christians who are not submissive to the Lord out of fear, but because they are moved and seduced by His love. "
And "the gift of fear of God is also an 'alarm' in front of obstinacy in sin. When a person lives in evil, when he or she blasphemes against God, exploits others, tyrannize, when he or she lives only for the money, for vanity or power or pride, then the holy fear of God alerts us: 'Be careful, with all this power, with all this money, with all your pride, and with all your vanity, you will not be happy! No one can take with them to the other side, neither the money nor the power nor the vanity or pride: nothing! We can only bring the love that God the Father gives us, the caresses of God accepted and received by us with love. And we can take what we have done for others".
"I think, for example, of people who have responsibility for others and allow themselves to be corrupted, but do you think that a corrupt person will be happy, the other side? No, but all the fruits of his corruption has corrupted his heart, and it will be difficult to go before the Lord. I think of those who live off human trafficking and slave labor: do you think that these people have the love of God in their hearts, those who deal in people, who take advantage of people with slave labor? No! They have no fear of God, they are not happy: they are not. " "I think of those who manufacture weapons for fomenting wars ... But just think, what kind of job is this?" "I'm sure if I asked the question: how many of you are arms manufacturers? Nobody, nobody, because they do not come to hear the Word of God. These people manufacture death, they are merchants of death, they make death a merchandise. May Fear of God make them understand that one day it all ends and that they will have to answer to God".
"Let us ask the Lord - concluded the Pope - for the grace to add our voice to that of the poor, to receive the gift of the Fear of God and that we can recognize how we, along with them, are vested in the mercy and love of God, who is our Father, our Father".