Thought of the day
Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth week in Ordinary Time
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“I have come to set the earth on fire"

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church 
Treatise on St Luke’s Gospel, 7, 131-132 (SC 52)
“I have come to set the earth on fire"

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing”… The Lord desires to have us vigilant, always waiting for the Saviour’s coming… But as the gain is meagre and the merit weak when fear of pain is what prevents us from straying, and as love is what has the greater worth, the Lord himself…sets on fire our longing to win God when he says: “I have come to set the earth on fire.” Not the kind of fire that destroys, of course, but that which produces an upright will and perfects the golden vessels in the Lord’s house by consuming the chaff and the straw (1Cor 3,12f.), by devouring all this world’s veneer acquired through the taste for earthly pleasures and the perishable works of the flesh.

This was the heavenly fire that burned in the bones of the prophets, as Jeremiah declared: “It becomes like fire burning…in my bones,” (Jer 20,9). For there is a fire of the Lord of which it is said: “Fire goes before him,” (Ps 96,3). The Lord himself is a fire, it says: “which burns without being consumed,” (Ex 3,2). The fire of the Lord is light eternal; the lamps of believers are lit at this fire: “Gird your loins and light your lamps,” (Lk 12,35). It is because the days of our life are still night that a lamp is necessary. This is the fire which, according to the testimony of the disciples at Emmaus, the Lord himself set within them: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24,32). He gives us evident proof of this fire’s action, enlightening man’s inmost heart. That is why the Lord will come in fire (Is 66,15) so as to devour our faults at the resurrection, fulfil each one’s desires with his presence and cast his light over their merits and mysteries.
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