As I understand it, the central message of our readings today is this: When we spend time with God, he will set us on fire. Take our first reading, which gives us a glimpse into the life of the early church. It was unstoppable! Those early apostles–ordinary, uneducated men–they set the world on fire. Last week in our daily readings we heard about how they spent time with the Lord and then preached him to everyone, got locked up in jail for it, and then by God’s grace escaped only to go out and do the same thing again. The high priest asks, “Didn’t you learn your lesson when I locked you up the first time?” And Peter said, “You don’t get it! We can’t help but preach Jesus! He’s our everything!”
There was a fire in them! Kind of like Jeremiah. You remember how Jeremiah was about ready to give up but then said, “If I say I’ll mention God no more, or speak any more in his name, there is as it were a fire, shut up in my bones, and I grow weary in holding it in and I cannot.” That’s the fire the apostles had! They couldn’t turn it off. It was a fire that spread like crazy. They set the world on fire, which Catherine of Sienna said we’re all supposed to do (yesterday was her feast day). Think! The billions and billions of faithful in our Church (I’m counting everyone in the Church Triumphant in Heaven)….all came to the faith because of their fire and the fire of those that came after them. The fire has spread down through our ancestors in the faith all the way from the apostles to you and me. And what a fire God has lit in us!
Jesus wants to set us on fire, and it happens when we spend time with the Lord. Look at our gospel. Jesus is walking next to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. After they part ways, the disciples say, “Our hearts are burning within us!!!” They spent time with God and boom, they were ablaze. It’s like Moses. He went to the top of the mountain to get the commandments, came back quite a bit later after spending time with God. And he glowed! He was set ablaze.
We’re supposed to be on fire too. I’m here to tell you that the fire place of our parish is our perpetual adoration chapel. When we go there, God will set us on fire…just as he did the apostles in the early church, just as he did for Jeremiah and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. When we spend time with Jesus we are put on fire. I look at that early church…it spread like crazy because the people were on fire! It should be the same now.
Everyone physically able should do a holy hour each week. Spend some time at our fire place and you will be changed, you be put on fire. Some thoughts:
- Don’t worry if you “don’t know what to do.” A friend of mine in the seminary, he said that he thinks of adoration like going to the beach. It doesn’t matter what you do there. You can run, walk, swim, sleep, read….you will look the same at the end. You will have a sun tan. Go to our fire place, our adoration chapel….you will get a SON tan. You will put on fire, better for having been there. Rosary, bible, books, eyes closed…whatever…you will be changed!
- Take the kids. What a glorious family tradition. Frankly I don’t care too much if kids are drawing or playing games on a phone in there. The point is they are in front of Jesus and they see their father on his knees, they see their mother praying for them. That is powerful! And they are there. They become accustomed to it. Don’t worry about the sounds they might make. Jesus likes it when we bring kids to him.
- Sign up for an hour. Until you put your name down, it will remain just a nice idea I might one day get around to. Nothing is more important than spending a bit of time with Jesus! Make a commitment. Even if an hour is already filled. The more the better.
- That said, always feel free to drop by. It is nice to make little visits when we need to pray through something or thank God for something or just rest a minute.
I was thinking about how Jesus set me on fire. He did it in a lot of ways, but one of the most important was during my IU days when I would go to St. Charles in the middle of the night to make a holy hour. I tell you I don’t think I’d be a priest today if it weren’t for those hours. Folks: go to the fire place. Your family, your church, your everything will be better for it. God bless you!