To set the earth on fire is part of Jesus’ mission. And how he wishes that the fire were already blazing!
Undoubtedly, Jesus’ passionate and anguished wish keeps coming to fruition. In fact, a cloud of witnesses surrounds us. They are witnesses from all walks of life, of both sexes, from past centuries as well as from our present age. All of them show all the while that they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire.
There surely is no lack in the Church of disciples. After all, there are still those who, alive with Jesus’ Spirit and blazing with his fire, go to towns and villages to proclaim the Gospel. They insist on going to other places to preach. They even go out of their comfort zone to make Jesus known in distant and unfamiliar lands.
Modern evangelists and prophets are not few either. They author books to bring to light the wisdom hidden in Christ. With their studies, they rediscover for the Church forgotten truths. Unfortunately, as they did to prophet Jeremiah, rulers sometimes accuse them of lack of patriotism. They even run afoul of those occupying the magisterial chair.
God also continues to raise up martyrs in the Church. Martyrs today are Asia Bibi and other Pakistani Christians, and so are many others in the Middle East and other countries. They turn into sign of contradiction. In comparison to the persecution they endure, what we have to bear in secular and pluralist societies because of “Obamacare,” for instance, or because of the legalization of same-sex marriage, is insignificant.
And many of the poor today are confessors of faith, since they fit the description St. Vincent de Paul gives of the poor peasants. They believe simply (SV.EN XI:190). That is why they remain at peace during trials and tribulations (SV.EN XII: 142).
But it is not enough for us to have countless witnesses surrounding us if we do not join them.
Jesus’ wish will not reach its full realization unless we too dedicate ourselves to seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We need to contribute. It is our turn to fill up in ourselves what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by suffering for his sake and for the sake of our brothers and sisters. We have to strive to go about doing good and helping the poor in every way, no matter our age (SV.EN XI:123). It is necessary for us to imitate Jesus: crucified, he draws everyone to himself; he consumes all by letting others consume him.
To do all this, however, to overcome mediocrity, we need Jesus’ Spirit and fire.
Lord Jesus, enkindle within us the fire of love that burned in St. Vincent de Paul.
August 14, 2016
20th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Jer 38, 4-6. 8-10; Heb 12, 1-4; Lk 12, 49-53