Recently, I started a women’s Lectio Divina group at my parish. We take one of the readings of the day, go off and meditate on a few verses of that reading for 10 minutes, and come back and talk about the points that struck us. With most gospel readings, it’s a pretty straightforward, though often profound, exercise.
However, this is the end of the liturgical year. I enjoy these end-of-the-year (end of the world) readings for recreational reading or even study. However, it’s a whole other beast to take these readings, meditate on them, and try to pull out some practical life applications from them.
For instance, take the reading from the other week:
“I have come to set the Earth on fire. How I wish it were already burning!” (Luke 12:49)
If that verse wasn’t awesome enough, Jesus then goes on to talk about how he came to divide us all. (Please hear my sarcasm there. I think we’ve all had enough of the earth being on fire after fire season in California, Australia, and who-knows-where-else. And I know I’m not alone in thinking that we really don’t need any more division.)
Really, Jesus? Come on–there are plenty of things you say that I can get behind, and then you go ahead and say stuff like this, and I sit back and scratch my head, going, “Who IS this guy? I thought I knew him!”
Me and everybody else, right?
One could just say that Lectio Divina just isn’t made for verses like this, and it would be a great idea to go meditate on one of the beatitudes. That person might just be right. However, Meditation Buddy and I grabbed that verse by the horns and went off to meditate on it.
Shockingly enough, I got something positive out of the experience!
Let It Burn!
Even before I set out to meditate on this, I was struck by the similarities of this verse and St. Catherine of Siena’s super-famous quote: “Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”
Alright, two people who I greatly admire are talking about the world being on fire. While Jesus has a rather Nero-like tone about the world being on fire, St. Catherine makes the world being on fire sound like a good thing. This was the catalyst I needed.
How could the world being on fire be a good thing?
While reflecting on fire being a good thing, the image of the disciples on the Feast of Pentecost came to my mind. They were in a room and they all had fire dancing on their heads–and this wasn’t a bad thing! In fact, it was one of the best things ever!
So, wait a tic–is the “world being on fire” that Jesus wanted to see a reference to all of us having the flames of the Holy Spirit dancing around our heads? All seven billion people on this planet? If that were the case, it would look like the world were on fire!
Can you imagine?
Every single person on Earth, alive with the Holy Spirit. That just takes my breath away. It goes to show just how small my own worldview is, because after 43 years of hearing this verse, this never occured to me. My brain jumped on ahead to the strife and division after this verse, and assumed that we were talking about the fires or war or destruction.
No, he may be talking about the fire of the Holy Spirit, alive in every single person.
I can’t think of a more beautiful thing.
True, I can see how the Holy Spirit can cause division, until everyone gives up their egos and invites the Holy Spirit into their own lives, too. But sooner or later, we’ll all get there. Jesus sounded pretty convinced of this. Because this is something that I can’t even imagine, I’m revealing my very limited worldview. I could sure use more Holy Spirit in my own life.
Yes, Jesus–you finally make sense here. I’m in your corner again. Like you, I also wish the world were already burning!
It can start with me.
Wildfire Photo by Caleb Cook on Unsplash.