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"I have come to set the earth on fire,"

From safari….

Walk through any garden center and you will see a variety of firepits for patios/backyards. We are both mesmerized and frightened by fire. With family, friends, and neighbors we sit around firepits. We recline in front of fireplaces. Lack a fireplace, check out YouTube or your cable channels. At the same time we invest in smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

Fires are destructive. Homes are destroyed. Lives are lost. Long standing forests are left charred. In the case of nature, fire can be beneficial. The fire allows new growth to take place and, in some cases, it is only fire that will bring these plants to life.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples, he has come to set the earth on fire. Fire is purification, an act of judgment. Jesus has come to cast out the evil in the world and to draw people to following the will of God. In the Acts of the Apostles, tongues of fire descend upon the disciples. Set on fire, the disciples overcome their fears and preach the good news.

For Luke, a follower of Jesus is to be both on fire with God’s love and setting fires. At our baptism, the fire of God’s love was poured upon us. As disciples we are to be united to God’s will. We are to be God’s instruments in the world which burn away evil and bring about new life.

With our hand on the bible, we also need to have a finger on the pulse of the world. The message of the Gospel will bring division because it challenges the values of this world. The gospel says --- service rather than weapons; love rather than hatred; welcome rather than exclusion; forgiveness rather than revenge; peace rather than conflict.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. Jesus shows us the way. He had his struggles with the religious people and others. Midst his struggles he was consistent in bringing the message of God’s love. He accepted his father’s will in life even though it meant dying on a cross.

Our weekly gathering as community helps keep our flame of faith burning, to follow Jesus boldly. Enabling us to follow Jesus’ lead. And every time we gather, we are surrounded by that great cloud of witness.

Included among those saintly witnesses are our departed loved ones, friends, and mentors, all encouraging us to remain faithful in trial. Nourished by Word and Sacrament we go forth our souls on fire, to bring the fire of God justice and love into our spheres of influence.

As Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man [sic] will have discovered fire.”

Blessings on your week!

Fr. Ron

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