It is not possible without fire
In a clearly prophetic style, Jesus summarizes his whole life in a few unusual words: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” What is Jesus talking about? The enigmatic quality of his language leads exegetes to look for the answer in different directions. In any case, the image of “fire” invites us to go near his mystery in a more ardent and passionate way.
The fire that is burning within him is the passion for God and the compassion for those who suffer. This unfathomable love that animates his entire life cannot be unveiled ever. His mystery will never remain enclosed in either dogmatic formulas or in learned individuals’ books. No one will write a definitive book about him. Jesus draws and burns, disturbs and purifies. No one can follow him with a burnout heart or a boring piety.
His words make hearts burn. He offers himself as a friend to the most excluded persons, awakens hope in the prostitutes and trust in the most scorned sinners, fights against everything harmful to human beings. He combats religious formalism, inhuman rigorism and narrow interpretations of the law. Nothing and nobody can chain his freedom to do good. We will never be able to follow him by living a life based on religious routine and on conventional “correctness.”
Jesus ignites conflicts rather than puts them out. He has not come to bring false tranquility but tensions, confrontation and divisions. In fact, he introduces conflicts into our own hearts. We cannot possibly defend ourselves against his call by taking cover behind the shield of religious rites or social practices. No religion will protect us from his gaze. No agnosticism will deliver us from his challenge. Jesus is calling us to live in the truth and to love without looking out for our interests.
His fire was not extinguished when he dove into the deep waters of death. Risen to new life, his Spirit continues to burn throughout history. His first followers feel it blazing in their hearts as they listen to his words while he walks alongside them.
Where is it possible to feel today this fire of Jesus? Where can we experience the strength of his creative freedom? When do our hearts burn on accepting his Gospel? Where is it that one can live in a passionate way, following his footsteps? Although the Christian faith appears to be dying out among us today, the fire brought by Jesus to the world is burning under the ashes. We cannot let it be quenched. Without fire in the heart, it is not possible to follow Jesus.
José Antonio Pagola
August 18, 2013
20 Ordinary Time (C)
Luke 12, 49-53