“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish is were already blazing!” Luke 12: 49
Listening or reading this Gospel verse can be very jarring! We are so used to the gentle Jesus; not the one revealed in today’s Gospel. This Jesus wants to set the world ablaze. We look at this statement from the point of view of a country that has already been ablaze from numerous, destructive forest fires. We have witnessed numerous, fierce house fires in our neighborhoods. Fire is destructive, so how can Jesus say he wants to set the world blazing?
Let us look at this another way; that Jesus wishes to set the world ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit! Jesus wants to transform the world, with the Holy Spirit working through us. We need to accept the Holy Spirit within us; to guide us; to energize us. All of us, in what ever way Jesus calls us, are to help bring the transformative fire of God, to our communities, our workplaces, our churches, our homes, and within ourselves!
Now, we maybe all called to various levels of works or actions, and for many us, it was a call to just daily living of the Gospel, of lives of prayer, of acts of simple charity is all what is demanded of us. And it does not matter if our actions are big or small; simple or very involved; have you ever seen a steel wielder’s torch? It may produce a small flame, but it’s heat is so intense that it melts metal, cuts through steel. No matter what God may ask of us; whether it is large or small; we share what we have received. Whether by word or action, whether with a large group or small. We perform the work we have been given; we do the best we can to proclaim the Good News, by our works, our words, and yes, even just by our prayers.
Now, there may be disappointments, especially in the times we finds ourselves in, church attendance is dropping, many of our friends and family members no longer practice the faith, indeed, they are thuise who are hostile to the Church. But so was the experience of the early disciples, and the early Christians. Within their own families, they found discord, disputes, and divisions. But just as our Risen Lord was with the Apostles, the first disciple; He is with us here and now, and into the future.
I have a favorite story about a Desert Father that I would like share in closing. Now the Desert Fathers and Mothers were early Christian hermits who lived in the Egyptian wilderness. They lived in simple huts, prayed and fasted often. Now, one day, one of these hermits approached Abba Joseph, who was known for his holiness, with a question. “I have followed my rule of life faithfully, what more is required of me?” Abba Joseph lifted his hands into the air, and spread his fingers. Suddenly, each of his fingertips was aflame. Abba Joseph said to the young hermit, “If you will, you can become flame!” Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will help become flame, to shine the light of the Gospel throughout our community, Commonwealth, our Nation!