Gospel LK 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
"You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased."
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come by the means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate heart of Mary, Thy well beloved Spouse. Amen. As I was looking back at last year’s post on this Gospel, at that time I was preparing to leave on my thirty day retreat. It is hard to believe one year has passed since then, as the thirty day retreat is still burning in my heart as if I just returned yesterday. What is this ‘Fire’ in us? In the Gospel John says: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.” What is the “Fire” that our Lord is speaking of?
Look at the image above from a distance, I love it. It is from St. Peter’s Basilica. What do you see in the artistic coloring? For me it resembles an ember that is burning in a fire, the center is white hot, and the edges and rims of the wood are sizzling in orange and red. When the wood is burning for awhile it is marvelous to watch. On expeditions up here, I love to watch the fire burn, especially when the wood has reached this point. When the wood is so consumed by the fire, the wood actually glows, the wood is now “Fire in Wood form”. It glows and radiates a most beautiful light because the wood is on fire right through its very center- it is all on fire. All of its previous properties and qualities are now changed.
Now, carry this image gently and prayerfully into the Gospel today. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire, is to be set on fire to the very core of our being, imbued with the Spirit of God - the Spirit of Truth and Love who proceeds from the the Father and the Son- He is the ‘Flow of Love.’ Ponder Him who Is Love. Can you imagine if you and I allowed the Spirit of Love and Truth to imbue us, so totally that like the embers above, we become utterly consumed by Love and lived by Love? If we allowed the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, to move our minds that we formed our thoughts and words by love? If every action and reaction and interaction was moved from a place of Love? Can you imagine if Love and Truth penetrated the mind and heart so totally that judgments and decisions were discerned from a place of love and not fear? Can you imagine if anger and unforgiveness could no longer harness and bind the heart, could no longer influence and distort the view of another soul? Can you imagine the liberty we would live in? This is the liberty of the children of God, which we are called to live in constantly. Like the embers on the left in the picture above, you would ignite others who come in contact with you and like the log on the right, they would stand no chance of not being put on fire. Yes! This is where we are called to enter - the fire of God’s love.
Perhaps this is what our Lord in some respects is inviting us into? Allowing His Spirit of Love to penetrate and possess our entire being?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine: it will be You shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way You love best: by shining on those around me. Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. (Cf. Prayer by Bl. John Henry Newman)
Quote: “If you are who you should be, you will set the world on fire!” (St Catherine of Sienna)