Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s wrath.
For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord -- the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.
On New Year’s Eve, my 14-year-old son went to a friend’s place to celebrate. It was the first time in many years my little family (my daughter, son, and I) had not been together for this occasion. I was worried, but he kept in touch, and that made the whole ordeal a bit more bearable. When I picked him up, he was fast-talking in the car, asking me questions about my evening — as though to distract me from doing the same to him. When we got home, we each got ready for bed, and then I called him into my room. I asked, “Did anything go wrong with your night tonight?” He dropped his head and after a slight hesitation, said, “Yeah.” As he talked through the guilt he was feeling and the scenario that resulted from an irresponsible decision, I asked him, “How does your stomach feel right now?” He told me it was all twisted up. As far as I was concerned, his conscience, which was disturbing the peace in his body, was enough punishment for his actions. He knew he was out of alignment with God’s will, and with my will, and he was even separated from his own integrity. Because of this, he felt afraid, and that fear was twisting him up inside.
I can relate to these feelings. There have been some large-scale decisions I’ve made in my life that left me feeling fearful — mostly fearful of being found a fraud. But in more recent days, in my walk with God, I notice fear creeping in when I sin, and it often presents as this feeling of being all twisted up, just as my son experienced. When this fear creeps in, Zephaniah tells us to seek righteousness. Unknowingly, my son did just that, because listen to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about righteousness:
"Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousnessthrough faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness(or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us ."(Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1997, para. 1992)
My son’s honesty served him well and helped him to more quickly feel right within himself, and in his relationship with me. This human example of re-establishing right-relationship with one another has a direct application to our relationship with God.
Our fear dissipates when our hearts are right with God.
Father Alex Colautti says, “Satan instantiates lies in the ledger of our lives and tries to convince us that’s who we are.”
Out of a securely established relationship, my son came to know the truth of who he is, that he is not inherently bad, but he simply made a bad choice. This is why he felt free to confess where he went wrong. Am I willing to embrace a disposition of humility in order to accept the secure relationship God offers me? Am I willing to exchange a life of fear for one of flourishing?