This is from our “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Explained” series written for our June 2019 Parish Newsletter by Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis.
No one likes to be afraid. Suspense movies, roller coasters, and haunted houses aside, we don’t really want to be afraid. I certainly don’t. In fact, for years the idea of Fear of the Lord as a gift of the Holy Spirit (and not a curse) totally confused me. Why the heck would I want to be afraid? After all, there are a lot of other gifts of the Holy Spirit that are much more appealing to me like Wisdom or Knowledge. But Fear of the Lord? No thank you.
But, that was before I learned what Fear of the Lord really is. Over time, I learned that Fear of the Lord wasn’t about the fight or flight response. Instead I learned that a better wording of this confusing gift was really “awe and wonder of the Lord.” That sounds a lot nicer, right?
Awe and Wonder of the Lord means that we see how great God is and how small and weak we are in comparison. I like to call it the gift that helps us look at God and say “Whoa….!”
This is a gift that’s easy to lose as you get older. As we learn more “stuff,” we can easily forget the sense of wonder that we once had when pondering God and His Creation. We become reasonable and rational and it’s no longer “cool” for us to be overwhelmed at God’s greatness. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you don’t lose it, but I bet you don’t show it to just anybody. After all, we don’t want people to think we’re simple or unsophisticated, do we?
In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, one of the goals that we have for the children is to educate them to wonder about God and His Creation. We do this by spending time pondering God, His Love for us, His Kingdom, His Creation, and His Son, Jesus.
So, when we ponder one of the parables of the Kingdom of God such as the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:31-32), we ask the children questions to help them see God’s greatness. For example, in the Mustard Seed parable, we ponder how a seed so very small could grow into a large tree that can be a home to the birds of the air. We ask, “What makes the seed grow like that? Do you? Do I? No. We can’t make the seed grow. We can plant it but that doesn’t make it grow. God’s power makes it grow!”
Then we use this reflection to help us learn more about God’s Kingdom. “What does this parable tell us about God’s Kingdom? That it grows and expands? That it can be a home for all of us?” And, then we end the reflection with the phrase, “I wonder…We will keep thinking about this as we work today.”
By spending time pondering God, His Word, and His Kingdom, we teach the child that we can grow to know more about God but that He is also beyond our complete understanding because He is so much bigger and more amazing than we are. What a good lesson about Fear of the Lord for all of us, no matter our age!