I had become aware that I had been mentally and emotionally feeling the heat of a burning for the past two weeks. The fire of loss of a (destructive) friendship I have come to cherish (unfortunately). The fire of loss of hope in the workplace environment. And a few other little fires burning here and there on the landscape of my spirit.
I lamented these fires, sought heaven’s help to put them out. These were almost all old fires, and I had wearied of them. Most of all, I was tired of being who I was, someone in a near constant burn, always burning up in secret over something.
And when I finally fell at God’s feet for mercy, asking for the respite of Joy for my burning, He told me,
A day later, when I had quietened myself somewhat, He continued,
I saw it as a call to obedience, as a call to work. So, with the help of dear~heart friends who answered the Spirit’s summons to help me understand, I tried the live the new hours differently. I did not seek joy although I burned for it; instead, I sought His will in loving and caring for my family. I sought His will at my workplace in willfully searching out silence. Because in all of these abodes of quietness and simplicity and silence, lay the call to obedience, from which joy would flow.
If I could just hold on long enough, that is.
So, I took myself back to the vineyard again. But instead of the inner assurance I thought would come, I sensed that my spirit doors remained open.
Late, late at night, when the moon~scented hours seemed to have nothing more for me, unseen hands turned my eyes towards a piercing teaching about Fire.
“A Father of the Church, Origen, in one of his Homilies on Jeremiah, cites a saying attributed to Jesus, not contained in the sacred Scriptures but perhaps authentic, which reads: “Whoever is near to me, is near to the fire” (Homily on Jeremiah, L. I [III]). In Christ, in fact, there is the fullness of God, who in the Bible is compared to fire. We just observed that the flame of the Holy Spirit blazes but does not burn. And nevertheless it enacts a transformation, and thus must also consume something in man, the waste that corrupts him and hinders his relations with God and neighbour.
This effect of the divine fire, however, frightens us; we are afraid of being “scorched” and prefer to stay just as we are. This is because our life is often based on the logic of having, of possessing and not the logic of self-gift. Many people believe in God and admire the person of Jesus Christ, but when they are asked to lose something of themselves, then they retreat; they are afraid of the demands of faith. There is the fear of giving up something pleasant to which we are attached; the fear that following Christ deprives us of freedom, of certain experiences, of a part of ourselves.
On the one hand, we want to be with Jesus, follow him closely, and, on the other, we are afraid of the consequences entailed.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are always in need of hearing the Lord Jesus tell us what He often repeated to His friends: “Be not afraid”. Like Simon Peter and the others we must allow His presence and His grace to transform our heart, which is always subject to human weakness. We must know how to recognize that losing something indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and of life is actually gaining ourselves, finding ourselves more fully.
Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus already experiences in this life the peace and joy of heart that the world cannot give, and that it cannot even take away once God has given it to us.
So it is worthwhile to let ourselves be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit! The suffering that it causes us is necessary for our transformation. It is the reality of the Cross. It is not without reason that in the language of Jesus, “fire” is above all a representation of the mystery of the Cross, without which Christianity does not exist.
Thus enlightened and comforted by these words of life, let us lift up our invocation: Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of Your love! We know that this is a bold prayer, with which we ask to be touched by God’s flame; but above all we know that this Flame and It alone has the power to save us.
We do not want, in defending our life, to lose eternal life that God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems. Amen.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI
Like so many, I too wanted to be enveloped by the miracle and joy of Pentecost. Pentecost was fire, yes, but for me it meant the fire of inner light and jump and spring, the fire-power of special wisdom and vigour that I needed so badly to carry my Crosses.
Not once did I associate it with a hidden burning away of my old self.
In the dark of the quiet hours, I finally understood the fire I was sensing.