June 9, 2019: Are You on Fire?

by Father Jadon

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the great concluding feast of the Easter season. Many think of this as the birthday of the church, for it was on Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, that God “opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation” and empowered Jesus’ disciples (including us) to shed the gift of the Holy Spirit throughout the world, as the opening prayer for this Sunday puts it. This year we again celebrate Pentecost with a combined, all-parish Mass, followed by our annual meeting. Our parish shield, designed when All Souls was founded and installed as a mosaic in the floor of our mother church, St. Alban’s, includes four images of a dove, one of the ancient symbols of the Holy Spirit. From its beginning, the founders of this parish wanted to clearly identify and link All Souls with the Holy Spirit.  

In our readings from Holy Scripture this Sunday, we’ll hear another metaphor for the Holy Spirit, one that clearly inspired the early church to action: “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (Acts 2:3). With this “fire” those first disciples were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit, and their lives were changed forever.  In the Hebrew Bible, what Christians now call the Old Testament, fire often represented the presence of God.  Think, for example, of Moses encountering God in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), or when God appeared in a pillar of fire to lead the people as they journeyed in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21). Then, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist told his followers that the Messiah would Baptize them with the “Holy Spirit and fire.” The promise was that, in every generation, the Spirit would come into the lives of the faithful and transform them, cleansing and purifying them to become more like Christ in their daily living. 

Over the ages we have gotten increasingly good at controlling and putting out “real” fires. I wonder if we haven’t also sort of tamed and subdued our interaction with the Holy Spirit. On this Pentecost, I invite you to stop and ask yourself, “How much am I on fire for God?” Do we, both as individuals and a church, have a fire in our belly? Are we going forth, as St. Ignatius put it, “to set the world on fire?”

Last Published: June 5, 2019 5:26 PM
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