In this gospel passage we get an insight into the desire of Jesus. The coming of the Son into this world is for a definite purpose – He comes on a mission! The Son, being God from all eternity, came into this world and became one of us. His name is Jesus, which means God saves; the mission and the Person of Jesus come together in a seamless way. This mission of Jesus fills his every thought and desire.
He has come to set the world on fire and how he wishes it were blazing! Fire burns everything impure, it radiates heat and warmth, and it gives out light. This fire, a symbol of divine love, was ablaze in the heart of Christ and was overflowing. How he desired that others would share in this same fire!
And yet he must hold back! He must respect the free-will of man and wait until they are ready. This readiness will come when man realizes the depth, the height, and the width of God’s love which is unlimited. This infinite love was manifested in the suffering and death of Jesus. It is this anticipation of his ‘baptism’ that caused Jesus such anguish. His suffering, death, and resurrection exploded every obstacle to complete communion with God. Now, if we are willing, we can share in this fire that Christ has come to bring.
We will experience this fire to the extent that we surrender our lives to Christ. The way has been opened to us and the grace has been given. Let me say again: the fire of divine love will be given to us to the extent that we surrender our lives to Christ. This surrender implies a complete trust in Christ, a complete willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to live out love in our life. Of course, to love means to sacrifice! We have to be ready even for division in our family, community, and culture; we must be prepared to be persecuted even by our loved ones.
Do you want to be who you are made to be? Do you want to share in Christ’s mission for your loved ones and for the world? Surrender your life, then you too will participate in the work of Christ. You too will have your heart set on fire and be the person you are meant to be in Christ. As Saint Catherine of Sienna once said: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Fr Philip Suelzer