VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that holy fear of God is the solution for the anxiety prevalent in today's society that is marked by a widespread nihilism.
The Pope said this today before praying the midday Angelus with thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"In this Sunday's Gospel," he noted, "Jesus teaches us on the one hand 'not to be afraid of men' and on the other hand to 'fear' God. We are thus moved to reflect on the difference that exists between human fears and the fear of God."
Fear, the Holy Father explained, is a "natural part of life."
"But there is also -- and today above all -- a more profound form of fear of an existential type that sometimes overflows into anxiety," he said. "It is born from a sense of emptiness that is linked to a culture that is permeated by a widespread theoretical and practical nihilism.
"In the face of the ample and diversified panorama of human fears, the word of God is clear: He who 'fears' the Lord is 'not afraid.' The fear of God, which the Scriptures define as the 'beginning of true wisdom,' coincides with faith in God, with the sacred respect for his authority over life and the world. Being 'without the fear of God' is equivalent to putting ourselves in his place, feeling ourselves to be masters of good and evil, of life and death.
"But he who fears God feels interiorly the security of a child in the arms of his mother: He who fears God is calm even in the midst of storms, because God, as Jesus has revealed to us, is a Father who is full of mercy and goodness. He who loves God is not afraid."
Benedict XVI affirmed that believers are thus "not afraid of anything," knowing they are "in the hands of God."
"[The believer] knows that evil is irrational and does not have the last word, and that Christ alone is the Lord of the world and life, the Incarnate Word of God, he knows that Christ loved us to the point of sacrificing himself, dying on the cross for our salvation," he continued. "The more we grow in this intimacy with God, impregnated with love, the more easily we will defeat every kind of fear."
Benedict XVI also mentioned the upcoming jubilee year in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth. The Holy Father will inaugurate the jubilee this Saturday.
"May this great spiritual and pastoral event awaken in us, too, a renewed confidence in Jesus Christ," the Pope said, "who calls us to announce and witness to his Gospel without being afraid of anything."