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The Wildfire of God

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Yehi ohr vayehi ohr’ —‘Let there be light; and there was light’.”

The universe appeared, empty, abysmal, a shadow lacking harmony and beauty. Then light permeated creation. Ohr Ein Sof - ‘Light of Infinitude’ — an emanation and movement, as the light of an incubator awakening seeds, or the light of an artist’s brushstrokes transforming a sketch into a masterpiece. The light stirred up the cosmos, like the colors of a sunrise, filling atoms with spirit, calling life towards one cosmic act of worship. This same light burned in the bush before Moses. It overshadowed the Blessed Virgin, making a womb a vessel for God. It burns now in the Church, in our hearts and homes, calling us out of a life of meaninglessness into a life of adoration.

“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).

Meaninglessness, aimlessness, futility, lack of purpose, boredome, despair, there is a long list of synonyms that describe the spirit of our times. The theologian, Fr. Tom Hopko, once predicted of the 21st century, that it would be an age of drugs, either the kind bought on the streets or distributed by physicians, or the dopamine hits from a career promotion, hand-held devices, or sensual thrills. Men and women will chase after every distraction available, chase with ferocity, because deep down, in our hearts, we know life without God is meaningless.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It is a fitting analogy for the secular world. But everything changed with that light on day one. Everything changes now, with the light of the Holy Spirit, breathed into us on Pentecost Day.

“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2-3).

The fire of the Holy Spirit triggered the first real revolution in the history of humankind. Outside of that fire, history repeats itself, as they say, one tyrant after the other, dysfunction and disappointment, and all kinds of empty lies wrapped up in pretty packages. But the fire of Pentecost is different. It burned in the hearts of the disciples, and burned through the world like wildfire. Hope, purpose, beauty, meaning, we take these for granted in the West. We inherit a 2,000 year old legacy. The world had never known the ethics, art, and joy that Christianity gave it, and the world is now realizing life without them as Christianity wains.

What does the Fire of Pentecost bring? It fills our lives in the same way it filled the universe on day one. It impregnates life with the Kingdom of God.

“I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

What this world is lacking is not better healthcare, or education, or politicians. The world is lacking saints — holiness.

We have all heard about the scandals in Church history. Critics are quick to turn every stone and anxious to imagine every possible scandal, just as people itch to discover faults in Christians and clergymen. Yet, in reality, there is one true scandal in history: Holiness — the Church produces saints. There is nothing surprising about sin. Holiness is the one thing shocking. Sainthood is the one exception.

The Holy Spirit offers us the chance to become holy, and this is the work that we must be about.

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you’ . . . He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22).

Where does this leave us today? The Spirit of God is in our hearts, straining in our hearts, yearning to lead us to holiness. Only one thing remains for us to do. We have to give ourselves over to the Spirit, and let the Spirit do its work.

Rome was not built in a day. Neither was the universe. The Holy Spirit began by hovering over the waters. There was light. There was heaven and earth, the plants on the earth, the sun and moon, the beasts, and at last man. Each day brought progress, and God saw that “It was good.” With each day, the universe blossomed, climaxing on the Sabbath, perfect rest, harmonious beauty, timeless peace.

The Christian life unfolds in the same manner, if we bear our cross. Step by step, as we take up our vocation our soul will blossom. We will become alive.

It is not an easy road.

“Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est - The Lord Your God is a consuming fire” (Deut:4:23-24).

“And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9).

Our life is a life in the fire — the Pentecost fire.

The fire poured down into the void. It pulled the universe out of emptiness into beauty. The same fire rained down on Pentecost Day, introducing life into the hearts of Christ’s disciples. It burns in our hearts today, purging and purifying everything we give it, our thoughts, desires, prayers, homes — day by day, if we live out our faith, the Holy Spirit will sanctify and renew.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…Keep my commandments” (John 14:27, 15).


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