“Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and he said to him, ‘Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven; his fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame’." (Paradise of the Desert Fathers)
“But whenever he spoke, prayed or thought he was alone, his squat body shot forth flames that reached the heavens: he became an archangel with red wings that he beat in the air. And if this happened at night when the flames were visible, you recoiled in terror to keep from being burned.
‘Put yourself out, Brother Francis,’ I used to cry. ‘Put yourself out before you burn up the world.’” (St. Francis, Nikos Kazantzakis)
Today we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. In my parish, like many others, members of the congregation wore red. We heard again the story recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, on how the Holy Spirit came down the disciples of Jesus, like tongues of fire. We heard how, emboldened by the Spirit, enflamed by the Spirit, they went into Jerusalem, was able to proclaim the Good News to all the diverse peoples. And by the power of their words, many came to believe in Jesus Christ.
We listen to the story, but are we enflamed? Through Baptism and Confirmation, we received the same Holy Spirit as did the Apostles and other disciples, but are we enflamed? Or has the concerns, the worries, the daily grind, dampened the flame. Still, in each of us, the flame still smolders. We need to stir the coals, by stripping ourselves of all those things that get between us and God. We need to intensify our prayer, open ourselves more and more to the presence of God. We need to take the time to read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, but more than that, try very hard to live them. When all the ash is cleared away, then the Holy Spirit can breathe into us, then will the flame burst forth in us, and then we will a true light to the world.