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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Daddy, Why Doesn’t God Love Me?

A Reflection on Malachi 3:19-20 

By: Larry T 

Sunday mass was over, but before her parents could stand up to leave Vanessa tugged urgently on her father’s suit coat sleeve and whispered, “Daddy why doesn’t God love me?” 

Andrew looked down at his six year old daughter in surprise and saw that she was serious - nearly in tears. He looked directly into her wide brown eyes and said, “God loves you. Vanessa, whatever gave you the idea that He doesn’t?” 

“But, but, Daddy the man said that we have to fear God’s name. And if I have to be afraid of His name that must mean that He doesn’t love me. 

Andrew leaned back in the pew and looked over the top of Vanessa’s head at his wife in a silent plea for help. But Carol gave him a blank look and shook her head. His shoulders slumped with the realization that he wasn’t going to get any help from her – he was on his own.
Looking directly into his daughter’s eyes, he said, “Honey, believe me, God loves you!” 

More insistently, she said, “But Daddy if I have to be afraid of His name doesn’t that mean that I have to be afraid of Him too?” And if He really loves me I shouldn’t have to be afraid of His name!” 

Andrew took a deep breath and said, “Vanessa, the bible is a really old book. That part of the bible was written hundreds of years ago and since it’s so old, we don’t have to pay attention to that part of it.” 

“Are you sure Daddy?” 

“I’m sure. And I know that God really loves you.” 

Shaking her head slightly from side to side Carol stared at him with amazement. What garbage, she thought, but she didn’t try to correct him. 

“Mommy, does God love me?” 

“Yes Vanessa, I’m positive that God loves you!” 

“Well, okay, if you say so.” 

Andrew exhaled in relief and said, “It’s time for us to go home.” 

They rose from the pew simultaneously and as they began to walk to the exit Vanessa reached for her father’s hand with complete trust and love.  

As they walked to the car, Andrew was annoyed that his young daughter had been so disturbed by a scripture reading; he was even angry at the Catholic Church and frustrated with his own inability to answer Vanessa’s question. He hated misleading her. The root of the issue is in the reading from the Book of Malachi: 

19 For the day is coming, blazing like an
            when all the arrogant and all evildoers
                        will be stubble,
And the day that is coming will set them
                        on fire,
            leaving them neither root nor branch,
                        says the LORD of hosts.
20 But for you who fear my name, the sun
                        of justice
            will arise with healing in its wings;”
And you will go out leaping like calves
                        from the stall
- Malachi 3:19-20, N.A.B.R.E.

Is fear of the Lord really an out dated phrase that we can ignore? In the Old Testament this expression appears in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel,
1 Kings, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judges, Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and Isaiah. The book of Sirach expresses it beautifully:

11 The fear of the Lord is glory and
            gladness and a festive crown.
12 The fear of the Lord rejoices the heart,
            giving gladness, joy, and long life.
13 Those who fear the Lord will be happy at
                        the end;
            even on the day of death they will be
            -Sirach 1:11-12, N.A.B.R.E.

The New Testament includes fear of the Lord in Acts of the Apostles, 2 Corinthians, and
1 Peter. In Acts of the Apostles we read:

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.
-Acts 9:31 N.A.B.R.E.
What Fear of the Lord is. The gift of the fear of the Lord, Fr. John A. Hardon notes in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, confirms the virtue of hope. We often think of hope and fear as mutually exclusive, but fear of the Lord is the desire not to offend Him, and the certainty that He will give us the grace necessary to keep from doing so. It is that certainty that gives us hope.
The fear of the Lord is like the respect we have for our parents. We do not wish to offend them, but we also do not live in fear of them, in the sense of being frightened.
What Fear of the Lord is Not. In the same way, Father Hardon notes, "The fear of the Lord is not servile, but filial, In other words, it is not a fear of punishment, but a desire not to offend God that parallels our desire not to offend our parents."
Fear of the Lord was expressed in the Act of Contrition that I learned as a child:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. 

As they walked to the car Vanessa looked up at her parents and smiled at them; it was a smile unconditional love and trust that little children who grow up in loving homes have for their parents. This is the kind of love that we must have for our God; little children such as these show us the way.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Larry! We really need to recover a sense of fear of the Lord in our parishes! Great job explaining it! Hopefully little Vanessa's religious education will also!


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