Sunday 18 August 2019
20th Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10. Psalm 39(40):2-4, 18. Hebrews 12:1-4. Luke 12:49-53.
Lord, come to our aid! – Psalm 39(40):2-4, 18.
‘I have come to cast fire on the earth, how I wish it were blazing already!’
Celebrated composer Christopher Willcock SJ’s uplifting commissioning hymn ‘Whence Comes This Fire?’ takes as its chorus the opening line from today’s Gospel: ‘I have come to cast fire on the earth, how I wish it were blazing already!’
The lyrics of the first two verses embed the title question in scriptural references: ‘whence comes this fire in the land of Judea? whence comes this fire in the sky in the East?’ In verse two we ask ‘whence comes this fire?’ on the roads to Emmaus and Damascus, places of life-changing encounters with the risen Christ.
A repeated question ‘whence comes this fire which preserves life in us?’ ends both the second and fourth verses, giving us pause to consider the sustaining fire at the heart of our lives: God’s Holy Spirit. It is a beautiful hymn making us aware of Jesus’ desire that his fire ‘take hold of our hearts’.