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The fire that changes the world
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace to earth. He came to light a fire. The fire that he longed for with great anguish was the presence of the Holy Spirit alive and active within each of his followers. This is what changes the world. This is what brings lasting peace, first within us and then flowing out from us.
The Holy Spirit is a fire that purifies us from impurities — the unloving behaviors and attitudes — that cause disharmony, disunity, conflicts and war. This purification makes us capable of feeling peaceful even in the midst of trials and attacks from others. This is what makes us channels of God’s peace in a world that desperately needs it. If you do not yet feel the fire of the Holy Spirit impassioning you to spread the peace of Christ, Jesus is in anguish over you.
Think of the evil around you that you’ve been wishing would stop. What does Jesus want you to do about it? What impurities in your own spirit needs to be burn off by the fire of the Holy Spirit so you can overshadow the evil with divine goodness? Look at what Jesus had to do. What baptism was he talking about? Not the water baptism he’d already received. It was the baptism of painful self-sacrifice, which he willingly accepted in order to rescue us from evil.
To stop evil, we have to become like Jesus. Our willingness to make sacrifices for others is a sign of Christian maturity. We should be burning with so much love that we are not happy unless we’re pouring our hearts and souls into works and prayers that to make a difference in someone else’s ability to receive eternal peace.
Jesus noted that this fire divides households. It divides us from anyone who remains self-centered and unwilling to make sacrifices that will lead to peace. Nevertheless, we must continue to give them love. This heats up the fire within us, which purifies us further. And gradually, the world changes.
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St. Mary’s Catholic Church
812 Duke Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
Monday through Friday
9:30 AM – 2:30 PM