I have been signing my e-mails with the tag line: “Be On Fire Wherever You Are” for some time now. Some people think it refers to my prior career in the fire protection business. Nope, that’s not it. The saying has nothing to do with extinguishing fires. It has to do with keeping the flame of the Holy Spirit alive in our lives. Is this an original phrase of mine? Nope, to that one too. It is a paraphrase of an important lesson I learned from the late Fr. Jim Krings.
I attended a scripture presentation by Fr. Krings some years back. During the presentation he commented on how “alive” the parish had been since the introduction of the ACTS retreats, a parish-based weekend retreat led by lay volunteers. Fr. Krings loved the fact that so many people were “fired up” about the retreats and he encouraged us to keep that same “fire” burning in whatever we do, wherever we do it. The message struck a chord with me and I paraphrased it as “Be On Fire Wherever You Are!”
This Sunday (Pentecost Sunday) we hear of the fire of the Holy Spirit that filled the hearts of the disciples:
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
The reading goes on to tell us that the people were amazed because the Apostles were speaking in different languages that were understood by the diverse group that had gathered. It was as if God had said, “I know what each of you need to hear to believe and I will make it so.” God, through the Holy Spirit, is still speaking to us in words we need to hear. We just have to listen. And that can be difficult with all of the distractions in our life. But whatever the tasks and challenges in our lives, we have to remember that God loves us and that he expects the best of us. He expects us to be “on fire” – wherever we are, whatever the circumstance.
There’s a story about a little boy who was brought to a room to receive a present. When the little boy opened the door to the room, all he saw was a large pile of horse manure. With a look of glee, the little boy dove headfirst into the pile and started digging anxiously into the manure. When the adult that had accompanied the little boy asked why in the world he was digging into the manure, the little boy exclaimed “Look at all of this manure! There has to be a pony in here somewhere!”
Yep, some days it looks like we are faced with a pile of manure. Don’t let that keep you from being “on fire” for the Lord. As the saying goes, “If God brings you to it, he’ll show you a way through it.” So, this week, remember the story of Pentecost. Remember the story of Fr. Krings. Remember the story of the little boy in search of a pony. Then remember that God loves you and wants the best of you … and for you. Take each day one at a time and “Be On Fire Wherever You Are!” Let the Holy Spirit work in your life!
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