By Mary Ellen Barrett
“I came to bring fire to the earth,
and how I wish it were already kindled! . ~ Luke 12:49
I have always been afraid of fire. I can stack logs and light a fire in our fire pit or fireplace, but I prefer to let someone else take on the task. I also tend to shy away from lighting grills, and don’t get me started on fireworks. I have never understood some people’s fascination with fire; don’t they know it hurts and destroys?
Be the Spark
For all that it is terrifying and destructive, fire also cleanses. Forests that have burned grow back stronger and lusher, and we even add ashes to the compost because they are healthy for the soil. Sometimes it is necessary to burn things down, clear out the rot and start fresh. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ tone was fierce about what He was here on earth to do, and the fire he kindled still burns today because it is contained within us. We, through the grace of our baptism, are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is incumbent upon us to pass that spark on to whomever we meet, to burn brightly with love for God and all his children, and in that sense, the world should be consumed by fire.
My oldest son was called to his heavenly home thirteen years ago today. Ryan, in his short fourteen years, lived with that fire burning brightly. He loved the Mass, served in the choir, and prayed without ceasing. He found his best self when he was praising God. Standing at the doors of the church behind his casket, I was told that it looked like Palm Sunday in there. Ryan’s faith had burned so brightly and affected so many people the church was packed with those who wanted to say goodbye with us. For months after, I received notes and emails from people who had experienced Ryan’s joy in prayer and at Mass, and they wanted to share how it changed them. What a gift for a grieving mother.
A Simple Faith is Best
Ryan’s uninhibited joy in God’s love was something that I may have taken for granted while he was with us here. Now that joy is a gift I treasure and try to emulate and spread. He was a child with a developmental disability who struggled with most things in life except faith; he just believed and loved. Would that we all had that simple faith. His joy is what I miss most.
Each of us has the power to spread the fire every day. Each encounter can transform another and show them how the gospel works within us. We don’t need to be thoroughly schooled in theology or an expert in Biblical studies. We just need to be like my Ryan, to have simple faith, to love God, and to want to share that love with everyone we meet. Burn brightly for God.
Jesus, I ask you to kindle a fire of love in me that spreads to everyone I encounter today. Let me be a living example of a life lived in simple faith and love.
Call to Action
Make every encounter today be one of love in action. Pray for everyone we meet that they may be consumed with a fire of God’s love and mercy.
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