Christmas Mass and the Fear of God

This year, I’m attempting to find a Catholic church nearby that’s holding a midnight mass on Christmas. Having been raised Protestant, I’ve never been to mass at all, Christmas or normal, and I think it would be an interesting experience. I disagree with the Roman Catholic church on many issues, but one thing that I believe they’ve retained (and that most Protestants have lost) is a sense of reverence and awe when it comes to interacting with God.

Some modern Christians may object to the idea that we ought to fear God, and I sympathize. I realize that an overemphasis on cowering before the Lord can lead to a belief in a harsh, impersonal deity, rather than a warm, loving Father, but Christians nowdays don’t seem to struggle much with finding God too fearsome. Rather, we have lost the sense of fear and wonder that God, who created the entire universe with a word, voluntarily condescends to us, and allows us to have communion with Him. We needn’t approach God with the fear that He’ll strike us dead if we somehow misspeak, but neither should we come into His presence as though we are the ones wielding the power, and that He is fortunate that we have granted Him an audience.

Indeed, part of being a follower of God is having a healthy fear of Him. A child loves his father, but does not pretend that they are on equal ground. A good father loves his child dearly, but will punish or chide him, if necessary, and how could a loving father do any less? “Whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” (Heb. 12:6) And furthermore, we ought not love our fathers despite their correction, but because of it. “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence.” (Heb. 12:9) If we afforded such respect to our earthly fathers, whom we both feared and loved, should we not also fear our Heavenly Father, who loves us enough to correct us?

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