Wisdom, Love, and Fear of the Lord

I am inspired today (3/21/19) by a fourth century St. Hilary of Poitiers essay on the meaning of “the fear of the Lord,” a subject we have discussed in the MPG. The essay is included in the Office of Readings and in the Morning Prayer (Enlarged Form) in the Universalis APP, an iPad screen shot of the page below.

The phrase “fear of the lord” appears 49 times in Sacred Scripture (NAB) distributed as follows:

And here, for meditation and consideration, are all 49 (although I dislike pulling verses out of context.) With that in mind, since 10 of the instances are in Sirach 1, it is probably worth beginning by reading that entire beautiful and inspiring chapter. “Wisdom,” mentioned several times, also has been a recent topic of MPG discussion.

NAB Sirach 1:1-29 – All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him it remains forever.
2 The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain, the days of eternity: who can number these?
3 Heaven’s height, earth’s breadth, the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?
4 Before all things else wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity.
5 To whom has wisdom’s root been revealed? Who knows her subtleties?
6 There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon his throne:
7 It is the LORD; he created her, has seen her and taken note of her.
8 He has poured her forth upon all his works, upon every living thing according to his bounty; he has lavished her upon his friends.
9 Fear of the LORD is glory and splendor, gladness and a festive crown.
10 Fear of the LORD warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.
11 He who fears the LORD will have a happy end; even on the day of his death he will be blessed.
12 The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb.
13 With devoted men was she created from of old, and with their children her beneficence abides.
14 Fullness of wisdom is fear of the LORD; she inebriates men with her fruits.
15 Her entire house she fills with choice foods, her granaries with her harvest.
16 Wisdom’s garland is fear of the LORD, with blossoms of peace and perfect health.
17 Knowledge and full understanding she showers down; she heightens the glory of those who possess her.
18 The root of wisdom is fear of the LORD; her branches are length of days.
19 One cannot justify unjust anger; anger plunges a man to his downfall.
20 A patient man need stand firm but for a time, and then contentment comes back to him.
21 For a while he holds back his words, then the lips of many herald his wisdom.
22 Among wisdom’s treasures is the paragon of prudence; but fear of the LORD is an abomination to the sinner.
23 If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the LORD will bestow her upon you;
24 For fear of the LORD is wisdom and culture; loyal humility is his delight.
25 Be not faithless to the fear of the LORD, nor approach it with duplicity of heart.
26 Play not the hypocrite before men; over your lips keep watch.
27 Exalt not yourself lest you fall and bring upon you dishonor;
28 For then the LORD will reveal your secrets and publicly cast you down,
29 Because you approached the fear of the LORD with your heart full of guile.

And here are all forty nine verses (NAB) containing the phrase “fear of the Lord.” I’m sure it is worth looking up the context for all 49, but I haven’t done it yet.

NAB Deuteronomy 6:24 Therefore, the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes in fear of the LORD, our God, that we may always have as prosperous and happy a life as we have today;

NAB 2 Chronicles 14:13 Then the Judahites conquered all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD was upon them; they despoiled all the cities, for there was much booty in them.
NAB 2 Chronicles 17:10 Now the fear of the LORD was upon all the kingdoms of the countries surrounding Judah, so that they did not war against Jehoshaphat.
NAB 2 Chronicles 19:7 And now, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Act carefully, for with the LORD, our God there is no injustice, no partiality, no bribe-taking.”
9 He gave them this command: “You shall act faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD.

NAB Job 28:28 And to man he said: Behold, the fear of the LORD is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding.

NAB Psalm 19:10 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The statutes of the LORD are true, all of them just;
NAB Psalm 34:12 Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
NAB Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it. Your praise endures forever.

NAB Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise.
29 Because they hated knowledge, and chose not the fear of the LORD;
NAB Proverbs 2:5 Then will you understand the fear of the LORD; the knowledge of God you will find;
NAB Proverbs 8:13 (The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;) Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.
NAB Proverbs 9:10 The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
NAB Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked are brief.
NAB Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD is a strong defense; even for one’s children he will be a refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that a man may avoid the snares of death.
NAB Proverbs 15:16 Better a little with fear of the LORD than a great fortune with anxiety.
33 The fear of the LORD is training for wisdom, and humility goes before honors.
NAB Proverbs 16:6 By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the LORD man avoids evil.
NAB Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD is an aid to life; one eats and sleeps without being visited by misfortune.
NAB Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and fear of the LORD is riches, honor and life.
NAB Proverbs 23:17 Let not your heart emulate sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD always;

NAB Sirach 1:9 Fear of the LORD is glory and splendor, gladness and a festive crown.
10 Fear of the LORD warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.
12 The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb.
14 Fullness of wisdom is fear of the LORD; she inebriates men with her fruits.
16 Wisdom’s garland is fear of the LORD, with blossoms of peace and perfect health.
18 The root of wisdom is fear of the LORD; her branches are length of days.
22 Among wisdom’s treasures is the paragon of prudence; but fear of the LORD is an abomination to the sinner.
24 For fear of the LORD is wisdom and culture; loyal humility is his delight.
25 Be not faithless to the fear of the LORD, nor approach it with duplicity of heart.
29 Because you approached the fear of the LORD with your heart full of guile.
NAB Sirach 10:21 Be it tenant or wayfarer, alien or pauper, his glory is the fear of the LORD.
NAB Sirach 16:2 Many though they be, exult not in them if they have not the fear of the LORD.
NAB Sirach 19:17 All wisdom is fear of the LORD; perfect wisdom is the fulfillment of the law.
NAB Sirach 21:11 He who keeps the law controls his impulses; he who is perfect in fear of the LORD has wisdom.
NAB Sirach 23:27 Thus all who dwell on the earth shall know, and all who inhabit the world shall understand, That nothing is better than the fear of the LORD, nothing more salutary than to obey his commandments.
NAB Sirach 25:6 The crown of old men is wide experience; their glory, the fear of the LORD.
11 Fear of the LORD surpasses all else. its possessor is beyond compare.
NAB Sirach 27:3 Unless you earnestly hold fast to the fear of the LORD, suddenly your house will be thrown down.
NAB Sirach 40:26 Wealth and vigor build up confidence, but better than either, fear of God. Fear of the LORD leaves nothing wanting; he who has it need seek no other support:
NAB Sirach 50:29 If he puts them into practice, he can cope with anything, for the fear of the LORD is his lamp.

NAB Isaiah 11:2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
3 and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
NAB Isaiah 33:6 That which makes her seasons lasting, the riches that save her, are wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is her treasure.

NAB Jonah 1:16 Struck with great fear of the LORD, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him.

NAB Acts 9:31 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.

NAB 2 Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we are clearly apparent to God, and I hope we are also apparent to your consciousness.

Feb 6 – Japanese Martyrs

I’ve been sick and feverish a few days so this post is a bit late. Anyway, here goes.

As Fr. Linsky discussed Japanese Sts. Paul Miki and his companions, I remembered a book of historical fiction I had read maybe 25 years ago while living in Japan. I don’t remember it well enough to discuss the details and don’t have time to tackle it right now, but do remember it being an impressive book popular within the Christian community in Japan. If you are a fan of historical fiction and have any interest in Japanese culture and Christianity in Japan, this may be of interest to you. Below is what Amazon has to say about it.

I will warn you that at least one Catholic blogger finds the theology in Silence to be “sinister.” I recommend reading his blog post before deciding whether to read the novel. But, the book is, after all, historical fiction and not theology and may provide good food for thought and meditation and self examination. I guess one alternate understanding of what the protagonist did was that he laid down, not just his mortal life, but his spiritual life, for the sake of his companions. I have a copy of the book around here somewhere. I’ll get it out and put it on the to do list.

Apparently the movie has been out a couple of years and is available on Amazon Prime.

January 30 – Parable of Sower

The Gospels and Why They Differ Sometimes

Interesting (though not authoritative) information about the Gospels is contained in commentary in The New Testament, New Catholic Version, Illustrated St. Joseph Edition . Mark is generally believed to have been written first, about 70 AD and Matthew and Luke a couple of years later. Mark is seen as a source for both Matthew and Luke since “…of the 661 verses in Mark, 600 are found in Matthew and 350 in Luke.” (Page 17 of the NT referenced above.) According to that same source, both Matthew and Luke, “complete or correct his (Mark’s) Gospel in light of information available to them and according to the needs of their readers.” (Page 68)

One of the simplest edits St. Matthew made to the verses taken from St. Mark’s Gospel is frequent, but not always, use of “Kingdom of Heaven” instead of “Kingdom of God.” It is generally believed that he did that because he wrote for a Jewish audience that did not speak the name of God. The phrase “Kingdom of God” appears 31 times in Luke (written to a gentile audience), 14 times in Mark, and only 5 times in Matthew. For example, from the Parable of the sower:

Mark 4:11 – He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you.”
Matthew 13:11 – He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.

Given that brief introduction to one aspect of comparison of the Gospels, a side by side look at the same parable as recorded in Mark and in Matthew may be interesting for reflection and meditation.

For reference, here is how the NABRE translates Isaiah 6:9-10:

Isaiah 6:9-10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

And he replied: Go and say to this people:
Listen carefully, but do not understand!
Look intently, but do not perceive!
Make the heart of this people sluggish,
dull their ears and close their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and their heart understand,
and they turn and be healed.

Sacrosanctum Concilium – 1963


The Office of Readings today includes a brief excerpt from the document in the title, the explanation of what Vatican II was all about. Here is the brief excerpt:

From the constitution on the sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council

Christ is present to his Church

Christ is always present to his Church, especially in the actions of the liturgy. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the person of the minister (it is the same Christ who formerly offered himself on the cross that now offers by the ministry of priests) and most of all under the Eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments by his power, in such a way that when someone baptizes, Christ himself baptizes. He is present in his word, for it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Finally, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he himself promised: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

Indeed, in this great work which gives perfect glory to God and brings holiness to men, Christ is always joining in partnership with himself his beloved Bride, the Church, which calls upon its Lord and through him gives worship to the eternal Father.

It is therefore right to see the liturgy as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, in which through signs addressed to the senses man’s sanctification is signified and, in a way proper to each of these signs, made effective, and in which public worship is celebrated in its fullness by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and by his members.

Accordingly, every liturgical celebration, as an activity of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a sacred action of a pre-eminent kind. No other action of the Church equals its title to power or its degree of effectiveness.

In the liturgy on earth we are given a foretaste and share in the liturgy of heaven, celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, the goal of our pilgrimage, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With the whole company of heaven we sing a hymn of praise to the Lord; as we reverence the memory of the saints, we hope to have some part with them, and to share in their fellowship; we wait for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, who is our life, appears, and we appear with him in glory.

By an apostolic tradition taking its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day, the day that is rightly called the Lord’s day. On Sunday the Christian faithful ought to gather together, so that by listening to the word of God and sharing in the Eucharist they may recall the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God who has given them a new birth with a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Lord’s day is therefore the first and greatest festival, one to be set before the loving devotion of the faithful and impressed upon it, so that it may be also a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations must not take precedence over it, unless they are truly of the greatest importance, since it is the foundation and the kernel of the whole liturgical year.

I thought that was pretty interesting so looked up the whole document, about twenty typewritten pages, printed it, and read it. I know it is not without controversy but found it enlightening. I especially liked the last sentence in item 69:

69. In place of the rite called the “Order of supplying what was omitted in the baptism of an infant,” a new rite is to be drawn up. This should manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant, baptized by the short rite, has already been received into the Church. And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.

If you are inclined to read the whole document, it is HERE.

January 23 – Melchizedek

Ancient Hebrew Characteristics and Translation

Here is a fascinating short article on the characteristics of and difficulties in translating ancient Hebrew into modern English. The writer is trying to tease you into taking their free lessons, and that would be a worthwhile hobby if you have the interest. Here is the link to the article.


Hebrew Bible Commentary on Melchizedek – Key points

Here is what the Jewish Study Bible has to say about the passage describing Melchizedek showing up with bread and wine and collecting a tithe from Abram.

  • Salem is probably Jerusalem. This is the only mention of Salem in the Torah.
  • Incident is an abrupt interruption of narrative about the King of Sodom approaching Abram.
  • Melchizedek refers to “God Most High” in his blessing.
  • Abram changes the term to “Lord God Most High” in his response.
  • Perhaps established antiquity of Israel’s holiest site and priestly and royal dynasties associated with it.

(Abram’s name was not changed to Abraham until he was 99 years old and was promised a son by Sarai (whose name was changed to Sarah) in Genesis 17)

Melchizedek in Sacred Scripture

The name Melchizedek appears ten times in Sacred Scripture, once in Genesis 14, once in Psalm 110 (Except in the Jewish Study Bible), twice in Hebrews 5, once in Hebrews 6, and five times in Hebrews 7.

In Genesis 14:18-20 Abraham had just enjoyed a military victory, recovering possessions and rescuing relatives, when Melchizedek showed up with food and a blessing.

Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram with these words:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

In Psalm 110:4, Melchizedek is referred to in describing a manner of priesthood. The name is not included in that verse in The Jewish Study Bible: “The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever, a rightful king by My decree.”  The name “Melchizedek” does show up in  footnote to the verse.

The Lord has sworn and will not waver: “You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.”

In Hebrews 5:6, the phrase from Psalm 110 is quoted.

just as he says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In Hebrews 6:20, Jesus is connected to the priesthood of Melchizedek.

“…where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In Hebrews 7:1-17, the writer offers more explanation about Melchizedek’s name, his background, his future, and his significance. This one is a bit mysterious.

This “Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High,” “met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings” and “blessed him.” And Abraham apportioned to him “a tenth of everything.” His name first means righteous king, and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.  Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.  See how great he is to whom the patriarch “Abraham [indeed] gave a tenth” of his spoils. The descendants of Levi who receive the office of priesthood have a commandment according to the law to exact tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, although they also have come from the loins of Abraham. But he who was not of their ancestry received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. Unquestionably, a lesser person is blessed by a greater. In the one case, mortal men receive tithes; in the other, a man of whom it is testified that he lives on. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, was tithed through Abraham, for he was still in his father’s loins when Melchizedek met him. If, then, perfection came through the levitical priesthood, on the basis of which the people received the law, what need would there still have been for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not reckoned according to the order of Aaron? When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law as well. Now he of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, of which no member ever officiated at the altar. It is clear that our Lord arose from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. For it is testified: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

And that is all we find in Sacred Scripture about Melchizedek. There are some interesting footnotes in the NABRE New Testament for the Hebrews verses, but I’m not going to copy them here. Look them up if interested.


Melchizedek or Melchisedek in The Catechism

In the Catechism, Melchisedek is mentioned once and Melchizedek four times. The emphasis is on The Eucharist and The Priesthood.

Paragraph 58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel. The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”. Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”.

Paragraph 1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread….” “He took the cup filled with wine….” the signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the “work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” – gifts of the Creator. the Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering.

Paragraph 1350 The presentation of the offerings (the Offertory). Then, sometimes in procession, the bread and wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood. It is the very action of Christ at the Last Supper – “taking the bread and a cup.” “The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, when she offers what comes forth from his creation with thanksgiving.” The presentation of the offerings at the altar takes up the gesture of Melchizedek and commits the Creator’s gifts into the hands of Christ who, in his sacrifice, brings to perfection all human attempts to offer sacrifices.

Paragraph 1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.” The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek“; “holy, blameless, unstained,” “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,” that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.


Oops, Wrong Link. Here is the correct link to “A Tiptoe Through Tulip.”

Occasionally the issue of different theologies among Christian churches comes up in our Wednesday morning discussions. It seems to me that it is possible to clearly understand and be able to defend Catholic theology only if the other major positions and some of the history are also understood. I ran across a 1993 EWTN This Rock Magazine James Akin article which gives the best short explanations I have read of the differences, clearly explaining Catholic beliefs in each case, and with lots of citations and scripture references. So, if it is the kind of thing that interests you, here is the link to A Tiptoe Through Tulip. It’s pretty short (if you don’t read the footnotes).

If it doesn’t interest you, ponder this:

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15b-17 (NABRE)

And, to quote Akin from the linked article:

It is important for Catholics to know about these subjects: First, Catholics are often attacked by Calvinists who misunderstand the Catholic position on these issues. Second, Catholics often misunderstand the teaching of their own Church on predestination. Third, in recent years there has been a large number of Calvinists who have become Catholics [8]. By understanding Calvinism better, Catholics can help more Calvinists make the jump.