And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12).
Repeatedly in scripture, we are told to be not afraid. Yet for many of us, our faith is not yet strong and deep enough to find all our motivation in love. Rather, we carry this burden of guilt and a fear of the unknown. When the motivation for our sorrow is fear of punishment, our sorrow is imperfect, even so, that is sufficient for the Sacrament of Confession. But, we should strive for the day when we are motivated out of love of God and not fear of punishment. On that day, our contrition will be perfect.
So, we need a healthy understanding of fear. Fear of the Lord is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but this fear is not a servile fear that dreads punishment, rather it is a filial respect that desires above all not to offend God whose love for us is infinite.
As the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy.” God loves you. He wants you to love Him. Our motivation to love Him and be with Him should be all about Him, not about us.
I want to do what You ask of me, in the way You ask, for as long as You ask, because You ask it. (from the Universal Prayer of Pope Clement XI)