Today's Reflection by Debbie Gaudino
When I hear this word images of a raging, hot, unstoppable fire are immediately brought to mind. When something is ablaze it is visible and radiant and very much contagious - eager to consume all that it within its reach. The connotation is not always positive. A raging fire can be a very scary, dangerous thing indeed.
Why then do the Scriptures, and the Saints, and even contemporary Christian music challenge the believer to be ablaze? Christian music artist Ben Walther's anthem "Ablaze" provides us some insight to the nature of being Ablaze in the Christian life.
Take a listen to his powerful song here:
InZechariah 13:9 we read:
"I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested. They shall call upon my name and I will hear them. I will say "They are my people," and they shall say, "The Lord is my God."
Our hearts and minds need to be set ablaze by God's purifying fire in order to be refined of our sins, and our bad habits and our twisted thinking - of selfishness and greed and unforgiveness.
The process, quite frankly, stinks.
Purification is painful. It is challenging and humbling to face our sins; it is HARD to revisit the hurts of our lives in order to forgive those who hurt us, and it if often a long and tedious process to break the bad habits that keep us from full surrender to Jesus. The results of this process however, like the precious gold and silver which emerge from the fire, are radiant and precious. Allowing the Lord to set us ablaze in order to purify us creates a new "us" that is a credible and compelling witness to God's love and mercy
Fire Illumines the Darkness
In the Israelite's journey out of Egypt the Lord made his presence known to them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Exodus 13: 21-22 tells us:
"The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light."
The Lord's presence in the column of fire lit up the darkness so that the Israelites could safely travel through it.
Ben Walther's song begins with these words: "By his grace we are conceived to be mercy, to be peace, to be light amidst the darkness."
Our mission as Catholics is to carry within us the presence of God, a presence which will be a column of fire for those who walk in darkness. At our Baptism we received an anointing to share in Christ's anointing of priest, prophet and King. Through that anointing we can bring the light of Christ, his mercy and his peace to others.
Lighting up the darkness for someone else doesn't have to be complicated. It may be as simple as a kind word, an invitation to a retreat, dropping off some spiritual reading to the person, or simply being a shoulder to cry on. When people ask us about our faith, we can shine that light through humbly sharing what the Lord has done for us. Above all, it involves praying for those around us who dwell in darkness.
Set the World on Fire
Debbie Gaudino is a Catholic blogger and speaker. You can read more of her fabulous writing on her blog: Saints 365.
She is a happily married, homeschooling Mom to two beautiful children. She and her husband were raised Catholic and had both fallen away from our faith for most of our young adult life. We experienced a major conversion at a Mass celebrated by Blessed John Paul II in Rome in 2000. Since then, our lives have been centered on knowing, loving and serving the Lord and his church.
Learn more about Debbie's work and speaking over on Saints 365!