For a few days, my soul… remained in a continuous loving union with the Lord. But this in no way interfered with the performance of my duties. I felt I was transformed into love; I was all afire, but without being burned up.
Reflections from St. Faustina’s Diary, par. 142
When Jesus says, “I have come to set the world on fire!” what comes to mind may be the destructive force of forest fires reported in the news, or perhaps the overhead view of a home completely destroyed. Also associated with the intensity of this destructive force is the loss of life, both human and animal. There is no doubt that fire is a scary thing and Jesus’ words seem rather “fiery” in themselves, as though He desired the destruction of the earth. If that is what He meant then His passion, death and resurrection would have been in vain. In reality, His desire is to see the world aflame with love for God and neighbor, where His Peace—like nothing the world knows—reigns supreme.
When we consider the holy aspect of fire, several thoughts and persons come to mind. First and foremost is the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire that filled Peter and the apostles on Pentecost Sunday, igniting the apostolic missionary activity of the Church and fulfilling Christ’s command to preach the Good News and Baptize. That fire continues today.
There is the fire of the Church’s work in the world, not only to evangelize, but also to help the poor, the hopeless, the downtrodden and those persecuted by Satan, who works in and through our desire for power. The Catholic Church is still the largest and most involved entity in the world that cares for such persons and she does it out of love of God and neighbor and for the salvation of souls.
Many saints come to mind, as well as Mary, our Blessed Mother. Each has one thing in common: an intense fiery love of God and union with Him, as St. Faustina describes above. They are models for us since we are also called to accept the same fiery love of sainthood.