Enkindle in Us the Fire of your Love
Jesus says in this Sunday’s Gospel, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” ( Lk 12 49). I invite you to join me in pondering on this powerful statement made by Jesus to his disciples and, by extension, to us who are members of his body, the Church. Fire is often symbolic of purifying fire of love in the Bible. Think of the fire of tongues that fell on the disciples on Pentecost. It is a fire of Divine Love. It is a fire that burns and purifies our hearts to expand in love. Think also of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus who felt the fire of Jesus’ words and love burning in their hearts as he spoke and opened the Scriptures to them (Lk 24:13). In the last couple of weeks, we have reflected on the greatest treasure we should seek, Jesus Christ, our friend who loves us. This week, the teaching on discipleship is developed further as Jesus goes on his journey to Jerusalem to offer the new Passover. The love for Jesus and his Kingdom, our followership, and our commitment to Jesus and His truth are greater than any other commitment, even the noble and holy commitment to the family. Love for Jesus and his truth must always be the most significant goal aimed at by his followers.
The Love for Jesus and his Gospel was poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) at baptism and confirmation. The light lit from the paschal candle and handed to our parents and godparents at baptism should be kept burning until Jesus returns. Our baptism calls for a continuous life of love and prayer. We must continue to fan the flame of the fire of love planted in our life. As followers of Jesus, we must make our hearts be set alight with the fire of Divine Love if we want to endure as faithful followers of Jesus. Jesus himself has demonstrated his love for us. He gave his life freely to us just as the Father gave him, his only begotten, so that we may be saved. Jesus also adds that he had a baptism to be baptized and longed so much to accomplish it. Jesus was referring to the baptism of the passion and the Cross, the shedding of his blood out of love for our redemption.
Jesus’ fire of love and baptism demands our sacrifice of love for his name and his Kingdom. Nothing must supersede our commitment to the ultimate love for Jesus and his truth. Jesus calls us to live his life and truth even if it brings us into conflict with the ones we love, including our beloved family. We must be willing to sacrifice the affection or friendship of those we love if they are obstacles to living for Jesus and his Gospel truth. With our focus on Jesus, “the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb 122), we must be willing to go through the suffering that entails being a follower and preacher of the Way of Truth and Life, just like Prophet Jeremiah endured suffering on account of witnessing to prophetic truth (Jer. 38: 4-6).
Let’s seek strength in Jesus our Lord and friend. In the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, we are empowered in grace to spread the fire of Divine Love. In our devotion to the Holy Spirit, He will enkindle the fire of Christ’s love in our hearts. In our imitation of Blessed Mother Mary and the saints whose witnesses are mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews 12: 1-4, we can set the world on fire of love. Jesus came to cast the fire of love on the earth and longs to see the world as a whole go up in a conflagration of this divine fire of love. Can we say Jesus’ wish is fulfilled when we look into our hearts and the earth? Each person should ponder on that question.
Let us not forget to celebrate the saints of love this week. On Monday, we will celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with two masses at 7 am in the historic Church and 6 pm in the Church on the hill. On Saturday, the Church will celebrate the memorial of St. Bernard, a beloved disciple of love. Therefore, let us find time to study the examples of the saints who spoke eloquently about the fire of love and bore witness to it.
With pure and divine love,
Fr. Bernard, OP