Fire of Love

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

August 14th, 2022 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 12:49-53

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My initial reaction to reading today’s gospel was not a positive one. It is mid-summer and there are wildfires raging in many places, especially in the West where I live. I can see and smell smoke in the air. And there are warnings that more danger may be ahead.

Then I read in Luke’s gospel for the day that Jesus has come to set fire on the earth. Not where I live, I thought. Still, I must ask how can I harvest some wisdom from the words of the Master?

Readers of my gospel reflections might know that I have great interest in the history of the cosmos, especially our home planet Earth. These days I visit the James Webb Space Telescope website for the latest findings of this astounding scientific instrument.

When I viewed its first image of deep space that captured a small part of what the Universe looked like a mere few million years after its inception, tears filled my eyes. From that came you and me! When it focused on a part of our galaxy where new stars were being created, I thought that view was what our sun looked like about eight billion years ago. That’s when its first “fires” ignited.

Star fire in creation was needed to warm things up so that life, human life, could come forth. Seeing that brought me to recall words written by Teilhard de Chardin that I have reproduced on a wall-hanging given to me by one of my students many years ago. I quote those words here: “The day will come, when harnessing the distances of space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.”

Fire can be destructive, as we witness in the forest fires of this summer. However, their full scientific story must include a chapter where fires are shown as a way forests regenerate themselves.

But the fire that Jesus refers to is a mystical, creative fire that can burn between us. The fire of love that can warm the space between us and bring us closer together. Sadly, that space that can also be cooled by harshness, hatred and indifference, which also exist in our world. Pray for the fire of God’s Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts with, as we say in prayer, “the fire of God’s divine love.”      

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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