Sunday’s reading from Luke’s Gospel has Jesus issuing a fundamental challenge to those who would follow him: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” He’s not speaking of the wild fires that destroy everything in their path but the fire that melts gold ore to purify it, the controlled burns that consume the dead grass and brush to make the fields green and productive. His challenge to us is to follow him in his life of self-sacrificing love, giving of ourselves so that we can be free to be and do for others, our loved ones and even strangers and enemies. The Holy Spirit continues Jesus’ work of purifying us of our ego and our selfish choices and decisions.
Jesus warns that love can be divisive and not always peaceful, even within our families. When we try to live out the line in the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, not everyone agrees.
Some of us can’t let go of our grudges and resentments and they can become family traits. Maybe the Spirit needs to turn up our thermostats a few degrees.
Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.