In the twelfth chapter of the gospel of St. Luke our Lord says these words:
I am come to cast fire on the earth. And would that it were already kindled! (Lk. xii. 49)
This verse is the Magnificat antiphon for First Vespers of the Feast. The following prayer interprets it as identifying the fire with the charity of God:
Lord, we beseech thee, let thy Holy Spirit kindle in our hearts that fire of charity which Our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, sent forth from His inmost Heart upon this earth, and willed that it should burn with vehemence. Who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.
We also recall the words of the Holy Forerunner in the beginning of St. Matthew:
I indeed baptize you in water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. (Mt. iii. 11)
Thus we see that the fire of our Lord Jesus Christ is both charity and a judgment according to truth. The fire of charity wills the salvation of souls and the fire of truth cleanses us from sin. Thus let every Christian soul receive the fire of the Sacred Heart particularly in the Blessed Sacrament for his own soul’s sake and for the sake of his neighbor.
It is in the words and deeds with which we treat our neighbor that the need for truth and charity particularly becomes acute. St. Thomas calls truth and charity the form (foundation) of all good works. In the month of June, dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, worldly men blasphemously celebrate the sin against nature. Yet even amidst this, we must work for the salvation of these souls. Many of these men and women are so deeply wounded and are in desperate need of the Sacred Heart, wounded for love of them. Consider the pleading of our father Abraham before the fire fell from heaven. Let us offer reparation and sacrifices that the souls of unhappy sinners may be among the just when the fire of Jesus Christ is kindled. And let us understand that truth and charity are really one fire from one Sacred Heart.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Timothy S. Flanders