“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it was already blazing!”
In moments when we are disadvantaged in society, we clamour for the world to change. In moments when we are compromised in values, we clamour for our old-fashioned Church to ‘progress with the times’; to say that what is wrong is now acceptable, and what is sin is sin no longer. We shout in frustration drowning the cries from our inner self that “change begins with me”.
There is no one person unholy, whatever values compromised or advantages siphoned from society. Even a sinner is holy.
We are holy because we are all created good. We are born holy but grow into societies and values which often bring us onto unholy ground. We are holy except only with varied degrees of ‘un-holiness’. Whoever we are, and whatever we have done cannot extinguished that holiness embedded in us when we were created; our holiness is like a fire that can never be put out.
Our challenge in this world is to reduce the degree of ‘un-holiness’ in our self. “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith”. Our life towards perfect faith is to fan the little flame of holiness to set the world around us on fire, the more it blazes the better. The fire to burn a difference begins with ‘me’.
We can sit and complain about our ‘old-fashioned’ Church but in truth God is the only constant in an ever-changing world. For 2000 odd years. God’s love, mercy, patience and faithfulness are all still there, a holy fire that continues blazing. A fire he wishes will consume us.
In truth too, the Church 2000 years on continues to be relevant to the times. But our vision of this is limited. We simply cannot see God’s complete picture for the human race. We are but one tiny piece of this giant, intricate jigsaw that will only be completed at the end of time. Only then will life no longer be a puzzle. Only then will we see how our little acts contributed in a large way to make the picture complete.
But we must first care for the small picture around us, the people in our lives we can impact with the burning fire of our holiness. We all are small pieces of the jigsaw and our holiness will burn us into shape to fit in with the people around us. When we are less holy, and more un-holy, others will have to be burned to shape themselves around us. This holiness in us enables us to be good to others.
It is when we are holy, when we are good that we will encounter God in our personal life. We experience his love, mercy, patience and faithfulness when we allow those to flow through us shaping ourselves and impacting others. It is in little acts that we allow our holiness to burn through.
When we encounter God, we put an experiential dimension to our faith. Each experience renews us; it makes us young. Each God-moment reminds us that we are always returning towards God; it strengthens our faith. Indeed to borrow the lyrics of a song and taking it out of the context of it and quote the words alone, “We are young, so let’s set the world on fire”.
This is a real life experience of mine. A group of friends love to sing this song on social nights out, singing it with this twist of faith. These are friends we met through our personal conversion experiences and in ministries for our parish. Through our journey to become less un-holy, we found a common identity in Jesus, perfecter of faith and were gifted the bonds of friendship. Together we serve in ministry, in mission of faith identifying ourselves as “always returning”.
Together we have shaped ourselves around each other, and together we have gone on to reach out to more and more people. We were once individual, tiny flickering flames and have now become a pocket of fire burning brightly and engulfing more people that come onto our path.
We are all young in faith, so let’s make a difference to this world. Let’s go out and set it on fire. Let’s blaze the world by who we truly are: holy.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time