“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The destructiveness of fire and its deadly consumption of all that is in its path comes racing to mind when I hear that Jesus wants to set the world ablaze. What does he mean in saying that he wants to set the earth on fire?
Consider the jack pine in the northern parts of the central and eastern United States and Canada – one of several serotinous plants – that is dependent upon extreme heat for new growth. The jack pine cones are glued shut with a resin that remains unless fire sweeps through and melts the resin and releases the seeds.
Jesus is lighting a fire inside each of us so that old habits, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes that don’t allow for growth melt away and we can grow in the virtues of the Gospel. What does Jesus want to burn away within me? How can I help him kindle that fire?
—Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. serves as Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, WI.
“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers… And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, © 1965, The Abbey of Gethsemane, KY.