I came to bring fire to the earth


I came to bring fire to the earth

This Summer, we were bombarded by messages concerning climate change. “The world is on fire!” Weather specialists presented global maps with red markings showing where there were raging fires, and where the stifling heat on parched land was suffocating fauna and flora as well as human life. I kept thinking, “What if all this red ink could be transformed into an illustration of the love of brothers and sisters all over this world which is groaning in pain waiting for the completion of Jesus’ redemptive mission. What a Pentecost this would be!”

Today, Peter’s wavering and inconsistency before Jesus’ question: “Who do you say I am?” confronts us with our own wavering and inconsistencies as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God brings Peter to confess that Jesus is the Christ. As Jesus continues to teach who he is and what his Mission is about: about being rejected from the elders, chief priest and scribes and even getting killed as a result, Peter panics. (I don’t think Peter really heard the last part), “and after three days will rise again.” We know that it would take some time for Peter to really encounter Christ and be transformed. His eyes, ears and heart started to open at the lake side after the Resurrection of Jesus, when asked, “Peter, do you really love me?”)

Peter takes his Master aside and rebukes him, only to be chastised by Jesus, “Get behind me Satan! For you are thinking not as God does, but as humans.” Peter’s vision is turned upside down.    

James tells us with some “in your face” facts about our faith and about our behaviour, as Disciples of Christ. We are all of the same Body of Christ, rich or poor, pleasant or unpleasant, wearing clean clothes or dirty rags, fragrant or smelly… we are all part of the Body of Christ; all deserve to be treated with dignity and love. Yes, it is necessary to pray, to pray for the needy; but are we ready to give of ourselves, to give up some of our “precious time” for our brothers and sisters, do we carry in our hearts Christ’s fire of love and deliver this compassion and warmth especially for those who are shunned by, or invisible to most of society, and for those who are seldom addressed by their name.

In a society that claims comfort, fun, self-indulgence at all cost, it is easy to slip into a lifestyle that takes all our time… and never allows us to serve generously, and to sit and listen to our brothers and sisters, to accompany them, letting no fear or revulsion take over. Let the zeal and boldness of our commitment to the mission given us in our Baptism repeated in our commitment to religious, consecrated life indeed, set the world on Fire, a fire that purifies, a fire that heals, a fire called LOVE.

“Whoever wants to become my follower, let them take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.”    

Elizabeth M. Nagel, a professor and Theologian, writes: “The cost and core of discipleship…. {is} whoever wishes to follow him must “deny”, “disown” or “renounce” him- or herself for Jesus’ sake. Disciples must accept that their life will somehow unfold like his did……Jesus’ disciples must to aim to lose their life in his risen life, so that he can continue his mission on earth through them….”

What are we ready to sacrifice to answer to Christ’s wish: “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!” (Luke 12: 49-55) Following this, Christ invites us to interpret the signs of time….as we do the appearance of earth and sky.

By Margot Lavoie – Oblate Associate