1 Samuel 13: The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part II
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The fire of battle is a familiar setting for scripture stories and for our own lives as well. Whether the skirmishes are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, blood of one kind or another is constantly spilled. Misery seems to be a constant human companion and because of this we may begin to think that God is not present as we suffer. But in this thinking we will not be correct, for God is always present, even when circumstances are bleakest.
We generally consider the fires of life to be destructive but today’s Gospel brings us another perspective (Luke 12:49-53). Jesus says: I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! What are to make these words uttered by the Lamb of God who constantly speaks of unity and peace? What can he possibly mean when he asks: Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. What Jesus is speaking of here is the fact that when we are acting in the Gospel, when we are true disciples of Christ, there will be friction and even conflagration. There will be destruction; yet this destruction will be an opportunity for new building.
Catherine of Siena has this insight to today’s Gospel when she describes how we become alight with the fire of self-knowledge, the fire of Christ: The soul’s being united with him and transformed into him is like fire consuming the dampness in logs. Once the logs are heated through and through, the fire burns and changes them into itself, giving them its own color and warmth and power. It is just so with the Creator . . . We begin to experience the heat of self-knowledge- which consumes all the dampness of our selfish love for ourselves. As the heat increases, we throw ourselves with blazing desire into God’s measureless goodness, which we discover within our very selves. (Cameron 312)
What we see in yesterday’s and today’s Noontime reading is Saul allowing the dampness to consume him rather that the fire of the heat of self-knowledge. Many of us back away from self-examination because we do not want to face the demon within. What Christ tells us, and what Catherine of Sienna clarifies for us, is that without Christ’s fire of self-knowledge we too, are lost because it is this very conflagration that purifies and binds. It is this fire that transforms. It is the blaze which makes us new again.
Tomorrow, fire in the desert.
Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.10 (2009): 312. Print.