“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
When we think of fire we are immediately thinking of something that is destructive. However the fire Jesus speaks about in Luke’s Gospel is different in that it seems to be to be the saving message of the gospel.
Jesus speaks of the fire of God’s love that consumes whatever is material and earthly and tests what is pure. It is destructive in that it destroys sin. But, with this fire you and I are inflamed to love others, and change those injustices in our world that work against the redeeming love of God. The fire Jesus wants to kindle in us is a fire of love and compassion that moves us from the acceptance of the way things are in the world and change the status quo of pain and anguish to caring relationships. The fire of God’s active presence in the world in you and me will bring about that change.
Jesus yearns for “the kingdom of God” to break forth into the world in all its fullness which will bring about transformation and justice. God’s love brings something very different than what the world and its schemes, its desire for power and control are doing. This means that oppression has to go. Greed has to go. Idolatry has to go.
Exploitation, dehumanization, narcissism, and all other evils we can think of that prevent the thriving of all people and all creation have to be burned up in the fire of God’s love. Those poisons become powerless in the presence of God’s
So what does this mean for us? Whatever our background, whatever our place in life, Jesus challenges us to take off our blinders and see the injustice, the poverty, and the suffering that is so prevalent all around us. We’re surrounded by hurting people. And the first step toward doing something about it is to take a long, hard
look at this suffering. That’s a place for us to allow the fire of God’s love o burn hot enough within us to bring about a change.
When we look at the injustices around us we have to say, “this isn’t right.” When we speak those words it begins to divide people immediately. Those who benefit from the status quo will fight long and hard to oppose and prevent anyone who tries to change things. They will do their best to avoid having to see the reality of injustice. It seems to me that’s the kind of division Jesus was talking about. He didn’t retreat from the Gospel of peace; he just realized that the cost of peace is justice brought about by the fire of God’s love.
May we find the courage to see the challenges that are all around us, and let the fire of God’s love burn in us.
1 As you look around your own community, what are the injustices that the fire of God’s love in you could begin to change?
2 When have you seen the fire of God’s love bring a change in your family, your church or your community?
3 How do you see that those who have been to Via de Cristo have been set on fire with the fire of God’s love and it is making a difference in your congregation and your community?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.