For Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Ordinary Week of the Church Year
Our goal is eternal life, and the way there is a holy fire that sets us free, burns us pure, and takes us away from our slavery to sin— a holy fire that leaves us authenticated, rectified, restored, awakened, raised up, fulfilled, reborn for the joy and glory of eternal life.
The word of the Lord in the first reading today puts it thus:
now that you have been freed from sin
and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
Sanctification, the work of becoming holy, is a fire that Christ sets.
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
God’s holy fire is first of all faith that the Son of God in Flesh and Blood has come to save us.
If we choose to believe and follow him, our belief will divide us from those who do not believe and follow him.
However, the division that Christ brings must also happen inside each of us.
Each of us is divided between sin and God.
The Father, Christ, and the Spirit lead, teach, help and enable us to cross the divide.
The crossing is a cross, a crucifixion.
Christ knew it, and that is what he says today.
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Having come to the Church at this hour— or long before, at baptism— you and I have set foot already on the road behind Christ.
He is a few steps and a few moments ahead of us— in his Eucharist.
In his Flesh and Blood, Christ freely chooses to be the servant of our salvation and of the Father’s glory.
In the Eucharist, we eat and drink Christ’s choice to be a servant.
To choose the Eucharist is to choose to be servants in our own sanctification and servants of the Father’s glory.
Christ is our trailblazing pioneer, and so are his witnesses, the saints.
The Word of the Lord to the Hebrews [12:1-2] tells us how to live the Eucharist of Christ.
Since so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us,
let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely.
Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
For the joy that was set before him,
he endured the cross,
despising the shame.
Now he sits at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we want eternal joy and life, we need to race and catch fire.
We already have fire that God gives in baptism.
We need to choose to serve as willing fuel, to burn brightly with God’s glory giving light to the world.
We fan the flames with prayer, worship of God, and service to neighbors.
The Spirit blazes in the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of the Risen Christ, telling and enabling us to jump in.