Saturday, August 17, 2013

Set the Earth on Fire

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12:1-2a
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!  There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!  Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”  Luke 12:49-51


The fire that burns in our hearts for Christ is our piety.  How close to Christ we come depends on that fire.  If we love Christ more than anything else in life, then we have the fire that Christ brings to us.  How we walk in the footsteps of Christ determines how close we will come to the love that God sends into our world in His Son.  We are called to love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart and soul.  We can give all our strength of mind and body to his service if the fire burns hot enough.  We fan the fire with our study.  How much we pray makes a difference in our following Christ.  The ways we imitate good friends help.  The frequency of Eucharist allows us to take Christ into ourselves even as we become his presence to our world. 


Following in the footsteps of the saints allows us learn how to incorporate Christ into our own time and place even as they did for their time.   Each Saint is an update of Christ because they bring into play all they have learned about Christ with the growth of appreciation of what Christ means to their day and age.   Every sermon we listen to gives fuel to the fire.  We have the chance to be close to Christ by surrounding ourselves with good people.  Wherever there is love, God is there.  Christ has loved us with the same love that the Father had for him.  We are challenged by Christ to love one another even as he has loved us.  No greater love has anyone who gives his or her life for another. 


The fire that Christ brings into the world is divine love.  How we run the race of life to catch up to the Christ of our time brings out many differences in all of us.  The challenge of Christ’s love in our hearts is to love one another with such a great love that no one is able to tell whom we love the most.  We are challenged to love our enemies with the same love God has for us in the love of his Son who gives his life for the good and the bad alike.  Christ asks us to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds.  There is a great crowd of witnesses to the love of Christ and each action of our lives allows us to be one of them.  We are called to live the Sacrament of the present moment which means that all of our lives is a preparation for the moment we are now in.  It only takes the moment now to live a lifetime of love.  An afternoon with the Lord is the equivalent of a thousand years according to Peter.  (2Peter 3:7-8) We must try to love each other even as Christ has loved us.  

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