Sunday, August 19, 2007

Christ Came to Set Us Ablaze

Today's Scripture Readings point again to this theme of "turning-on" nominal Christians to the faith, as opposed to just going through the weekly ritual of going to church.

In Jeremiah 38 (and before) we read Jeremiah's prediction of the Babylonian captivity because King Zedekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem were just going through the motions.

In Hebrews 12 we read about the many saints that went before us to heaven who are watching our progress, hoping that we obey God and his priests, so we don't turn up in captivity.

And in Luke 12 Christ says:
I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (Luke 12:49
Compare that verse (Luke 12:49) to Revelations 3:14-16:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea...because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth...(Rev. 3:14-22).
Do you see the parallel between the OT and NT passages? God warns Jerusalem (a metaphor for today's church) to obey God's spiritual leader set over them, Jeremiah, or suffer the consequences, which is exile. In the NT Jesus wishes the people were on-fire (hot) but to those that just go through the motions, He will spit them out of his mouth.

Catholics, especially, get lazy I think, because we falsely think that because we participate physically in the sacraments (e.g. Holy Communion once a week), we're on the right path.

But the Church's teachings through councils, popes and evangelists, continually remind us that the disposition of our heart (i.e. the degree of our faith) determines the degree to which the physical sacrament is able to impart grace. In The Catechism the section on The Sacraments of Salvation BEGINS with a condition:
Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace... (1127).
A few paragraphs later, the IN BRIEF section leaves us with these reminders:
They [the sacraments] bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions (1131).
The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments by the Word of well-disposed hearts" (1133). (emphasis added)
In other words, we have to participate by the discipline and focus of our hearts and lives. We have to make Christ the center of our lives if we expect to get to heaven.


  1. Kind of like the promises of God that as a "fervent" Evangelical I would memorize and quote proudly...while blindly forgetting at what cost those promises were given to us. Those promises that made us feel great - like we were to be living such a "secure" and "materially successful" life...came with big IFs. We didn't care for the 'ifs' though, and when I finally was stirred deep in my soul about the error of the nauseating "prosperity gospel" I then was always becoming disillusioned in these fellowships after a time. Something just never "clicked."

    Christ did come to set us ablaze, and it does have so much to do with our hearts and our "yearning" for Truth, for faith, hope and love. I've not read Fr. Benedict Groeschel's book, The Virtue Driven life, but that's what we must strive for and where we're lacking in a certain virtue, we have only to ask God and Our Lady for help. Then when that hunger for an increase in faith, or hope comes, and believe me it will, the blaze will burn brighter and higher than it ever did! It would seem where the Fullness of Truth is, that the Catholic Church is to be the brightest beacon of hope on the planet. Not the jumbo tron mega church on t.v.

    As a dear cradle Catholic in our parish said to me, "Susie, it's converts, like you, who are so "in love" with the Church that are going to set all of us old sheep on fire!"

    Well, I'm surely not tooting my own horn here, but I do believe the converts and those returnees or reverts, by God's grace have been ignited by the Holy Spirit in a phenomenal way.

    We've been back in the Church for only 2.5 years and I'm continually overwhelmed at what God is doing in my life and showing me and taking me to places I never thought I'd ever see, geographically and spiritually. I was dead and I've been given life again! Yes, converts are definitely helping reignite the smoldering embers into a brilliant and dazzling flame of Love, but not by anything we "do" but by the faith that's 'seeing beyond' the pews. It won't be long until that holy raging fire burns out the dross and leaves the purest of gold, to glow for all eternity.

    Lack faith? ASK for more. God won't deny anyone that! Then give God your heart and hold on to your hat!

    Thanks for the great post, Stan.


  2. I really long to hear things like this preached from the pulpit. I know my priest has gotten flack from parishioners that he told them they were "going to hell" so he, unfortunately, makes a point of reminding them how good they are because they come to Mass!

    I really have been convicted lately of the need to be on fire for God and His Church. Especially since we are loosing people because of the lukewarmness of believers.

  3. It is never good for anyone to be lukewarm about anything that is intrinsically good, noble and life-sustaining. It is good to 'be on fire' for something good, noble and life-sustaining like the Eucharist. Undoubtedly, the Lord would appreciate the tears shed by an on-fire Protestant, but we must remember that the on-fire Protestant misses out on the body of the Lord. The Catholic Church can always do with some/many on-fire brothers and sisters from non-Catholic churches: together with on-fire Catholics, they will be able to be the leaven in the bread.