Fire of Love

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.  Enkindle in us the fire of your love!” 

Approaching the annual Feast of Pentecost, we reflect upon the promise of Christ and gift of love that is the Holy Spirit.  John Wesley, co-founder of the Methodist Church, is sometimes credited with speaking about the passion of faith that is symbolized in the fire of God’s love through these or similar words: “Set yourself on fire with divine passion and people will come from all directions just to watch you burn.”

Whether he said it or not, that sentiment offers us a wonderful and powerful image to embrace in this season of Pentecost.  It points to what Pope Francis calls us to participate in via a worldwide synod of discernment by which we receive the Holy Spirit alighting upon us as tongues of fire to brighten the darkness of religion in our times and to enlighten the shadows of loneliness and pain that blanket the earth.  He encourages us to listen to that still, small voice of God deep within our soul, and feel the pulse of the Holy Spirit that can unite us in our diversity as it did for others on the first Pentecost, and direct us as it guided the first disciples long ago.

When Father Pierre Tielhard de Chardin said, “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love.  And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire,” he was referring to our time.  He said that we live steeped in divinity’s burning layers.  I think he meant that whether it’s a glowing ember or cosmic explosion, fire can destroy us or save us; and the sparkle of God’s love darts forth hoping we will be saved.  Like gold that is tested in fire, we also desire to be purified and solidified as the treasure that He tenderly created.

Since ancient times, people have gathered to watch fires burn.  There is something mesmerizing about doing so.  Our Native American ancestors often gathered around fires to contemplate and celebrate; the blazing flames served sacred and healing purposes.  From rituals of passage to preparation for battle, from suffering of loss to celebration of life, a tribe circled together to dance around fire and watch it burn.  Native spirituality reminds me of Jesus’ challenge to His disciples at Pentecost and Pope Francis’ challenge to the church now as we are asked: “Can you stand in the fire with me through the joy and hope, the grief and anguish, to bring ambition to the hopeless, courage to the frightened, strength to the weak, grace to the forgotten, a bright future for the children, and not shrink back from the mission before us?”       

We, humans, are often disappointed by what transpires in ourselves, in others, in systems that we trust, sometimes even in God.  Yet Pentecost never loses hope, for it fulfills the promise of Christ, the gift of love, and the passion of divine fire, while seeking cosmic redemption for all creation.  “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.  Enkindle in us the fire of your love!”

8 thoughts on “Fire of Love

  1. Thanks Father Don for your lovely message about Pentecost; It is always great to hear from you and know you are well, I am fine, I pray for you daily, love and prayers, Adele


  2. Hi Don— is our grief meeting tomorrow or Friday?  Nancy

    Sent from my iPhone


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