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Arms manufacturers "must give an account to God." This was the stark message given by Pope Francis at Wednesday’s general audience in St. Peter's Square, in which he concluded a series of meditations on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, today’s being fear of God.
“Fear of God doesn’t mean being afraid of God,” the pontiff said. “We know very well that God is our Father and that He loves us and wants our salvation, and always forgives: always! So there's no reason to be afraid of him!”
“Fear of God, rather, is the gift of the Holy Spirit” asserted Francis, “which reminds us how small we are before God and His love and that our good comes in the abandoning of ourselves, with humility, respect and faith, into his hands. This is fear of God: the abandoning of ourselves into the goodness of our Father that loves us so much!”
Fear of God makes us aware that everything comes from grace and that our true strength is uniquely in following the Lord Jesus and in letting the Father pour out on us His goodness and his mercy. “ He added that in opening our hearts through this fear of God, this love and mercy and “God’s caress” come to us, “because we are children that are infinitely loved.”
However, the gift of the fear of God is also “an alarm in front of the pertinacity of sin” he said. “When a person lives in evil, when they blaspheme against God, when they exploit others, when they tyrannize, when they live only for money, or power or vanity or pride, then the holy fear of God alerts us: 'Be careful, with all this power, with all this money, with all your pride, and with all your vanity, you will not be happy!’ No one can bring money or power or vanity or pride to the other side. We can only bring the love that God the Father gives us, God's caresses received by us with love, and we can bring what we've done for the others. Be careful not to put hope in money, pride, power, vanity; this promises us nothing."
He made reference to corrupt leaders: “but you think that a corrupt person will be happy on the other side?” he asked the faithful, “No!” he exclaimed. “Rather all the fruits of their corruption have corrupted their hearts, and it will be difficult to go to the Lord.”
The Holy Father then condemned human traffickers, slave labours and arms manufactures: “but just think, what kind of trade is this?!” he asked satirically referring to arms dealing. “I am sure that if I asked the question now, how many of you are arms manufacturers, the answer would be ‘none’, because they do not come to hear the Word of God. They are the fabricators of death; they are merchants of death, who make a profit out of death.”
He went on to pray “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.”
Francis concluded by asking the Lord for the “grace to unite our voices to those of the poor, to welcome the gift of the fear of God and to be able to recognize, together with them, and filled with the mercy and love of God, who our Father is, our ‘papà’.”