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WITHOUT FIRE IT ISN'T POSSIBLE

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Lc 12, 49-53

In a clearly prophetic style, Jesus sums up his whole life with some unusual words: «I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!». What is Jesus talking about? The enigmatic character of his language leads the exegetes to look for an answer from different directions. In any case, the image of «fire» invites us to come closer to his mystery in a more burning and passionate manner.

The fire that burns in Jesus' interior is the passion for God and the compassion for those who suffer. This unfathomable love that empowers his whole life can never be fully revealed. His mystery will never be kept enclosed in dogmatic formulas or in the books of the learned. No one will write a definitive book about him. Jesus attracts and burns, disturbs and purifies. No one will be able to follow him with a deadened heart or an anemic piety.

His word makes our hearts burn. It is offered lovingly to those who are most excluded, it awakens hope in prostitutes and confidence in the most rejected sinners. It battles against everything that harms human beings. It combats religious formalisms, inhuman rigidity and narrow interpretations of the law. Nothing and no one can put chains on its freedom to do good. We can never follow it by living in religious routine or in the conventionalism of «what's correct».

Jesus fans the flames of conflicts, he doesn't put them out. He hasn't come to bring false tranquility, but tensions, challenges and divisions. Actually he introduces conflict into our very heart. It isn't possible to defend ourselves from his invitation by hiding behind religious rituals or social practices. No religion will protect us from his gaze. No agnosticism will free us from his challenge. Jesus is calling us to live in truth and to love without selfishness.

His fire hasn't been snuffed out when submerged in the deep waters of death. When he is raised from the dead to a new life, his Spirit keeps burning throughout history. The disciples of Emmaus feel it burn in their hearts when they listen to his words as he walks next to them.

Where is it possible to feel this fire of Jesus today? Where can we experience the power of his creative freedom? When do our hearts burn at welcoming his Gospel? Where are people living in a passionate way as they follow his footsteps? Even though the Christian faith seems to be snuffed out among us in the present times, the fire that Jesus brought to the world continues burning beneath the ashes. We can't let it go out. Without fire in the heart it isn't possible to follow Jesus.

 

José Antonio Pagola

 Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf

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