Ignite With The Fire Of Divine Love
Our Lord has come to cast fire, but do we really want to burn with the fire of Divine Love? If we're honest, perhaps the answer is both yes and no. If we'd only let Him, Jesus can ignite even the coldest, stoniest and soggiest heart.
Not even the fire of fresh lava or the sun can compare to the fire of Divine Love, and the Lord wants to set our hearts ablaze with it.
The question is: Do we want His fire? If we're honest, perhaps the answer is both yes and no. Yes, I do want to taste the exhilaration of Your life, O Lord, to be fully healed and alive; No, I don’t want to surrender control of my life.
Jesus loves us and He will do everything, throughout every moment of our lives, so that our cold and soggy hearts will burn with the ardent fire of His love.
Fr. Dubay’s book (mentioned in the homily): Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer
Monsignor Cihak’s Homily Notes
Fire can be terrifying and destructive. Anyone who has had their house burn or fought forest fires knows its destructive power. Fire also warms and nurtures life. There is nothing much better than coming in from the snow and sitting next to a roaring fire. Fire can cauterize an open wound. Fire purifies and refines, turning raw ore into precious metals. Fire transforms iron into strong steel. Jesus has come to set the earth on fire. He intends that His fire do a little bit of each in us. The fire that Jesus yearns to ignite in us, is no natural fire, rather it is the fire of Divine Love, the very life of the Blessed Trinity in each Divine Person’s self-giving to each Other. Out of this fire was the world created; we were created. Not even the fire of fresh lava or even the sun can compare to the fire of Divine Love, and the Lord wants to set our hearts ablaze with it.
Today, Jesus’ declaration shows His desire to fulfill the prophecy of St. John the Baptist who said that the Messiah “will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire” (Lk. 3:16). When the Holy Spirit descends on the new Church (the apostles and our Blessed Mother) at Pentecost, He comes in the form of tongues of fire. But something must happen in order to unleash this fire in the world: Jesus declares, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized” (Lk. 12:49). For us to share in the fire of Divine Love, Jesus must receive the baptism of His Passion. Out of this fire, we were redeemed. By freely laying down His life for us, by allowing His Sacred Heart to be pierced by that lance, the fire in His heart could engulf ours. Pope Benedict writes that the fire is Christ’s own passion of love, “a fire that is to be handed on. Whoever comes close to him must be prepared to be burned. This is a fire that makes things bright and pure and free and grand. Being a Christian, then, is daring to entrust oneself to this burning fire.” (Magnificat) Do we want this fire?
If we are honest, perhaps the answer is both Yes and No. Yes, I do want to taste the exhilaration of Your life, O Lord, to be fully healed and alive; No, I don’t want to surrender control of my life. I’m scared that Your Passion may enter into my life. Yes, I want to burn with Your love; No, I still would rather desire this sin. But deep in the see-sawing of our fallen will, aren’t we tired of the coldness in our lives from living for ourselves? Aren’t we tired of the spiritual isolation that sin creates? As much as it stings sometimes, don’t we really yearn to be touched by the Lord’s fire? This fire of love will terrify and destroy; it will warm and nurture; it will purify and refine; it will free us so that we can lay down our lives in love. It will terrify the demons who molest us; it will destroy sin and evil; it will warm and nurture our true self, the person the Lord has created and redeemed us to be; it will purify and refine our weaknesses so that they become vessels of grace. We need His fire, for so many of us have already been dealt so much in life, we try to walk in a life that is totally beyond us, stretching us to the max. We need this fire to temper us so that the thin and painfully stretched thread of our life does not break, but rather glows with a supernatural light.
Jesus Christ has not come to confirm a self-styled status quo and to coddle our self-contentment. We were made to burn with love, and nothing less. Jesus will not consent to self-indulgent mediocrity because He loves us. He will do everything, throughout every moment of our lives, so that our cold and soggy hearts will not quench the ardent fire of His love. Pope Benedict continues, “The message of the Church is there precisely in order to conflict with our behavior, to tear man out of his life of lies and to bring clarity and truth. Truth makes demands, and it also burns” (Magnificat). Christ comes to divide us from whatever divides us from Him. Nothing divides like this fire because it is the fire of truth. This is what Jeremiah’s whole life was about. As the Lord’s prophet he had to deliver a truth that was not wanted, and it got him thrown into a cistern. The evil heart does not wish to hear the words of divine love and will try to silence the voice. Being in love with the Lord means that compromise and negotiation must eventually yield to surrender. But the fire shooting forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus can ignite even the coldest, stoniest and soggiest heart, if we’d only let Him.
Here are some ways to open ourselves up to the fire. The first is to honestly admit to the Lord where we stand with Him, no matter how distant or rebellious we may be, and then to take a step forward toward Him, lean toward Him. If we cannot even desire what is good, then we pray for the desire to desire what is good. Another step forward is to read good spiritual books, for example, Fr. Dubay’s book Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer. Today at this Mass Jesus is offering all of us His fire. Though invisible, this whole church will be ablaze with the fire of Divine Love, and not only here, think of the fire shooting out into every corner of our hearts.
In this life, the stakes are high. If we do not allow the Lord to purify us and we remain obstinate in the face of His love, then that same loving fire will be a punishing fire causing inconceivable suffering in the heart which has damned itself. The fire brings division. Where do we wish to stand? While we are alive there is time. Even if we stumble out in the cold, even if we screw it up over and over again, even if we find that we cannot even desire what is good, our Lord can still find us and warm us with the fire of His heart. We just can never give up. He is so loving and powerful that He can dry us out and set us ablaze with love for Him so that we too can join the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). Ah, how sweet and strong and wonderful is this fire, and oh how awesome it is to stand in it. It is the divine fire of love, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us “persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), and let the fire fall.