Thursday, August 15, 2013

Without fire, it's impossible

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 18, 2013

Luke 12:49-53

In a clearly prophetic manner, Jesus sums up his whole life in some unusual words: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" What's Jesus talking about? The enigmatic nature of his language has led exegetes to find the answer in different directions. In any case, the image of "fire" invites us to draw near to his mystery in a more ardent and passionate way.

The fire that burns inside him is the passion for God and compassion for those who are suffering. This unfathomable love that animates his whole life will never be able to be revealed. His mystery will never remain locked in dogmatic formulas or in the books of the wise. No one will write a definitive book about him. Jesus attracts and burns, stirs up and purifies. No one will be able to follow him with a burnt-out heart or dulled faith.

His words make hearts burn. He gives himself amiably to the most excluded, stirs up hope in prostitutes and confidence in the most despised sinners, fights against everything that harms human beings. He battles against religious formalism, inhumane strictness, and narrow interpretations of the law. Nothing and nobody can chain his freedom to do good. We will never be able to follow him while living in religious routine or the conventionality of "what's right".

Jesus starts conflicts, he doesn't put them out. He hasn't come to bring false comfort, but tension, confrontation and division. Actually, he introduces conflict in our own hearts. It's not possible to hide from his call behind the shield of religious rites or social practices. No religion will protect us from his gaze. No agnosticism will free us from his challenge. Jesus is calling us to live in truth and to love unselfishly.

His fire didn't stay dead when it was submerged in the deep waters of death. It resurrected to new life; his Spirit goes on burning throughout history. The first followers felt it burning in their hearts when they heard his words as he was walking with them.

Where is it possible to feel the Jesus' fire today? Where can we experience the strength of his creative freedom? When do our hearts burn on receiving his Gospel? Where is it lived out passionately, following in his footsteps? Although the Christian faith seems to be extinguished today among us, the fire that Jesus brought to the world goes on burning beneath the ashes. We can't let it go out. Without fire in the heart, it's not possible to follow Jesus.

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