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August 2001

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (Luke 12:49)

In the Old Testament fire stands for the word of God spoken by a prophet. But it also means divine justice that purifies God's people by passing through the midst of them. 

The Word of Jesus is the same. It builds, but at the same time it destroys what does not have real substance, what must fall, what is vanity and it leaves standing only the truth.

John the Baptist said of Jesus: "He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16), foretelling Christian baptism that was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the appearance of tongues of fire. (cf. Acts 2:3) So this is Jesus' mission: to cast fire on the earth, to bring the Holy Spirit with his renewing and purifying strength.

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it wore already kindled!

Jesus gives us the Spirit. But how does the Spirit act? 

He acts by pouring love into us; the love which we, following his wish, must keep burning in our hearts. 

What is this love like? 

It is not an earthly or limited love. It is an evangelical love. It is universal like that of the Heavenly Father who sends rain and sunshine on all, on the honest and the dishonest alike, including enemies. (cf. Matt. 5:45) 

It is a love that does not expect anything from the others but always takes the initiative and is the first to love. 

It is a love that makes itself one with every person: suffering with them, rejoicing with them, worrying with them, hoping with them. And it does so, if need be, and in a concrete way, with actions. It is a love that is not simply sentimental, not just words. 

It is a love with which we love Christ in our brothers and sisters, remembering his.words: "You did it to me." (Matt. 25:46)

It is a love that tends towards reciprocity and brings about mutual love with others. 

And since this love is the visible and concrete expression of our evangelical life, it underlines and gives worth to the word that then we can and must offer in order to evangelize. 

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 

Love is like a fire. What matters is that it stays alight. And for a fire to stay alight it must always burn something. First of all it must burn up our egoistic self, and it does this because, by loving, we are fully directed towards the other: either towards God, by doing his will, or towards our neighbours, by helping them. 

A burning fire, even though it is small, if it is fed, can become a huge blaze. It can become the blaze of love, of peace, of universal brotherhood that Jesus brought on earth. 

Chiara Lubich


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