During this Holy week, as we enter more fully into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is a good time to ask ourselves some deep and profound questions around Passion and Fire.
Where are the passion and fire? Where is the passion and fire within the Church? Where is the passion and fire within me?
Jesus said in Luke 12:49: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
Hebrews 12:29 “…for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Based on these scripture passages, it seems clear that Jesus desires for us to be a people passionately on fire for Him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about fire:
CCC 696 “Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions…. the fire of the Holy Spirit…transforms what he touches…. Christ…” will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself. The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. “Do not quench the Spirit.”
It is clear, based on scripture and the teachings of the Church, that God desires for His Church to be passionately on Fire for Him.
Are We a Church on Fire?
I will leave that as a rhetorical question.
According to the Catechism, we are the Church:
CCC 751: “…Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God… By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly…”
As the Church, Jesus invites us to examine the level of passion and fire within ourselves.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
I would like to say that I am passionately on Fire for God, and in many ways, there is fruit to verify that I am. Yet, as I examine myself in light of scripture, evaluating the fiery fruit of the great men and women of God who’ve gone before us, I see that I am not as passionately on Fire for God as He would like me to be.
Following Pentecost, the disciples were full of the Holy Spirit and as a result witnessed God do amazing things among them on a daily basis:
“Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” Acts 6:14-16
I am not a theologian, nor did I stay at the “Holiday Inn” (sorry, old commercial), so I won’t pretend to know all the facts relating to Peter’s Shadow. But, for me, it is pretty simple: the Holy Spirit was present and people encountered the Fire of the Holy Spirit and they were healed.
As the Catechism states in CCC #696,
“…fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions…. the fire of the Holy Spirit…transforms what he touches….”.
As people encounter the Fire of the Holy Spirit they are transformed.
What About Us Today?
Is the shadow of the Holy Spirit exuding from you and I as it was Peter?
Perhaps you might say, ‘I am not Peter and I am not Jesus. I am just an ordinary Catholic/Christian trying to do my best. I can’t do what Jesus did.’
That certainly sounds humble and it resonates within our logical minds… Until we read these words from Jesus:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
These words from Jesus mess with our logical mindsets. Think about it: What did Jesus do? He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, fed the multitudes off of a kid’s small lunch, calmed a massive storm… the blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame walked and demons fled….
Jesus dares to say to us that we too can do the things that He did. Come on! How are we to do that?
According to Scripture and the teachings of the Church, we are called to be passionately on fire for God and to spread His fire throughout the earth. The very Fire of the Holy Spirit is to exude from us and touch and transform everything He encounters.
This is the day that we, as the Church, can live into the fullness of all that Jesus and the Church teach – full of passion and Fire.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the whole Church, on this Easter Sunday, were to enter into the fullness of the resurrection life of Christ to encounter the Fire and Passion of the Holy Spirit?
Romans 8:10-12 “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Simple Prayer for Passion and Fire:
CCC 671 “…the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love….”
Lord Jesus, please bring forth your Holy Spirit Fire and Passion within me, us, our families, the Church, the world!
And may we, your Church, be a people who are passionately on Fire for you!
Luke 12:49: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
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