Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fire and Reign

There’s good fire, and there’s bad fire. “Our God is a consuming fire” says the Letter to the Hebrews. That’s good fire. Hell is the flipside, the outside of the Heart of God, and it scorches us. That’s bad fire. We’ve all had a taste of both fires, I’m sure. But the Fire we’re made for is the fire in God’s own Heart, the fire we see atop the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When we give ourselves to it, making a gift of our life and leaping out of the pit of selfishness, we dance in the fiery furnace of God’s Love. We burn with the same Passion that filled the dark void in the beginning, that spilled stars and planets and a plethora of forms into being. When we let His Fire burn us, we are purified, made clean, whole, and happy. We are in the Light, so to speak. We are on fire. But when we reject this idea of superfluous, self-giving, self-sacrificing love, we grow cold. Talk of God might in fact singe us, embitter us, and cause us to “simmer” and resent the idea of total self-giving as a bit extreme or even “fanatical.” Jesus said in the gospels that he has come to spread a fire on the earth, and how he longs that it be kindled! Selfishness puts us on the outside of the flame where it reduces us to ashes. Love puts us in the flame, and we are purified like gold. We all discover our passion in life sooner or later, and aren’t they always things that get us outside of our own heads for a change? I think that’s part of the Divine Design, and why God stamped such passion within us. Pope Benedict XVI has written recently that “eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing."(Deus Caritas Est, n.2) “Ascent, renunciation, purification and healing”… Sounds like Lent to me. It’s a season that’s meant to purify our eros, our passion, not stifle it or smother it. It’s meant primarily to be a wholehearted YES, not a list of NOs. It’s a YES to love; the real love that transforms our lusts; lifts them up and redirects them to their proper end. Lent is a journey into God’s Fire.
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