Ordinary Time - Week 20c

The fire of divine love

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

Fire is used frequently in Sacred Scripture as a symbol of the Love of God, a love which works to cleanse men of their impurities. Love is like the fire which never says, 'Enough'. Love is ignited by contact with God: My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned, exclaims the Psalmist. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, to purify their hearts and prepare them for the mission of extending the Kingdom of Christ throughout the world.

Jesus says to us in today's Gospel: I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled! Love finds its ultimate expression in Christ himself: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Jesus surrendered his life freely for us. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is why He tells us of his holy impatience to fulfil his Baptism by dying on the Cross and redeeming mankind: I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!

The Lord wants the fire of his love to set alight our hearts, to light them up completely. He loves each one of us with a personal love, as if each one of us were the only object of his love. He has never ceased to love us, to help us, to protect us, to communicate with us, even when we are ungrateful, when we sin or even when we sin gravely. The Lord always shows forth his benevolence. God does not love us with a conditional love. He loves us totally, without any conditions, with all of his being, which is infinite. This mystery of love is particularly apparent in the case of his Mother, the Blessed Virgin.

Mary, Our Mother, is a mirror in which we should see ourselves. She lived a normal life in such a way that none of her relatives or neighbours knew what was in her heart. Not even Joseph would have known, had not God revealed it to him. Our Blessed Lady, God's most favoured creature, remained always in a state of absolute normality. At the time of the Annunciation, when God's special love for her was especially evident, she accepted God's eternal plan for her. How great was her faith! To think that she carried within her the salvation of Israel, the fulfilment of all the prophecies! She not only believed in God's absolute love, but believed without the slightest reservation.

Mary teaches us to love God without limits. She helps us now to examine our conscience concerning the quality of our love for God. It doesn't make sense to have a half hearted love for a God who loves us with such ardour. Is our heart on fire like that of the Blessed Virgin? Or has our heart gone cold, becoming a heap of ashes? God loves me. This is the fundamental fact of my existence. Everything else pales in importance.