Into the Fire
by Amanda Watson
We have met fire. We have met the fire of anger, fear, rage in the loss of the lives of 21 innocent children and adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. We have met the all consuming power of the Mesquite Heat Fire that raged near Abilene. We have met the anger and separation of the fire that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. And soon, from God in all God’s mercy, we will meet the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost—the fire of love that confronts and consumes the fire of rage and the fire that destroys.
Just as the fire in West Texas and the fire of pain suddenly and literally burst open, the wind and fire of Pentecost breaks in - in a most unexpected fashion. A roar like a windstorm. Bright flames dancing in the air. Loud voices speaking in many unintelligible languages for those followers of Jesus waiting in Jerusalem. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit by the risen and ascended Lord. Extraordinary and spectacular. Lives were changed. This was the beginning of a movement that would change the world. This is the movement of love that will put out the fires of hate, fear, depression, and loss.
In the Church, Pentecost marks a beginning, the start of the long season we call Ordinary Time. Ordinary in that the Sundays are simply numbered and there are no major feasts comparable to Christmas and Easter. It is a time to begin to be aware of what we are called to do and what we are called to be. Yet, we are called not simply to be aware, but to be extraordinary. If the event of Pentecost is an extra ordinary event, shouldn’t we sense our call to discipleship to also be extraordinary?
Ordinary and extraordinary really go hand in hand during this long season of Pentecost. Mother Teresa taught, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary… We must love those who are nearest to us… above all your love has to start there; be concerned about your neighbor. In the work we have to do it does not matter how small and humble it may be, make it Christ’s love in action. What matters is the gift itself, the degree of love that you put into each one of your actions.”
When we give of ourselves for Christ, we find ourselves filled with great love and joy. We need to be aware this happens in our everyday lives among family and friends, at school, at work, during our everyday life – this is discipleship in Ordinary Time — empowered by the Holy Spirit extraordinarily given on Pentecost.
In this season, we settle into the spiritual rhythms of living as the disciples of Jesus. We gather in our churches and then go out into our neighborhoods. We worship and then we go out—we witness. We seek to grow and learn and to serve others. We rest our bodies and refresh our souls as we go about doing the work that God has given us to do.
In Ordinary Time, this is the season of love, even in the midst of a world that chooses fear, hatred and divisiveness. Jesus poured himself out in love and so we seek to do the same. We meet the fire with love. Jesus pours his love into our hearts through this magnificent, powerful Holy Spirit—the roaring wind, the living flame, the power of God. “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven” we recite in the creed. During Ordinary Time especially, we powerfully respond, “For him and for his mission we go into the world”—we go strengthened with love and we can change the world!
Let us go into the fire with the power of the Holy Spirit!