(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis warned corrupt persons in positions of power that they would do well to fear God’s justice and repent on Wednesday, during the course of the catechetical portion of his weekly General Audience, dedicated to the seventh and final of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: fear of the Lord.
Departing repeatedly from his prepared text in Italian for emphasis, the Holy Father spoke of the fear of the Lord, not as a servile or supine disposition before the Lord, but as the grateful response of people who have first been loved by the infinite love of God the Father.
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“The fear of the Lord is also an alarm,” he said. “When a person lives in evil, when one blasphemes against God, when one exploits others, when one tyrannizes, when one lives only for money, vanity, power, pride – the holy fear of God alerts us: be wary!” The Holy Father went on to say, “In this way, you will not be happy, you will end badly.” Departing from his prepared remarks, the Holy Father added, “One can take with him to the other side nor money, nor power nor vanity, nor pride: nothing! We can bring the love that God the Father gives us – the caresses of God accepted and received by us with love – and we can bring what we have done for others.”
Pope Francis spoke explicitly of people political responsibility, who allow themselves to be corrupted, as well as of people who make their living from human trafficking and slave labor, and of those who manufacture weapons for fomenting wars. “That the fear of God might make them understand that one day it all ends and that they shall have to give account to God,” he prayed.
In the English-language summary read out after the main catechesis, the Holy Father said that the fear of the Lord is also a kind of alarm for all Christians: awakening us to the presence of sin in our lives and reminding us that we, too, will one day be held accountable to the just Judge. “Let us pray that the fear of God, together with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, will renew us in faith and constantly remind us that in God alone do we find our ultimate happiness, freedom and fulfilment.”