Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

We are easily tempted, particularly in today’s culture, to keep our faith to ourselves. Religion is often seen as a polarizing and divisive topic, and attitudes of tolerance and “to each his own” are quite popular. Yet, as Jesus said to us yesterday, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God have been granted to us; God has made us His children and offers us Heaven as an inheritance.

How can we possibly keep such good news to ourselves? If God is the greatest joy of our life, and if we care even the least bit for those around us, would we not do whatever we could to help others come to share in that joy, or possess it for themselves?

This is precisely what Jesus asks of us today: to be on fire with the love of God. Fire and love have something in common in that they consume what it is they come upon, if it is capable of being consumed. Our hearts however are not like wood in that we will automatically burn once the fire of the Holy Spirit is applied to us. Rather, we must allow ourselves to be burned, to be consumed. We surrender to the love of God, and when we do that we find ourselves transformed. The light of God’s love in our lives guides us in all things, illuminates our understanding, shining brightly before us in all that we do. We are not meant to be boastful, but we are meant to be seen by the world; Jesus says elsewhere that just as a lamp gives light to the whole house, “…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)

We can only imagine how different the world would be if every Christian lived their faith brilliantly in the world; who could doubt the existence of a good and loving God if only Catholics—all one billion and more of us—lived out their faith to the full? We are the Body of Christ, and just as Christ was God made visible in the world, we are meant to make Christ visible in the world. Where Christians are invisible, so too is Christ.

St. Thomas Aquinas is an example of someone who burned brightly and was totally consumed with the love of God. His writings still inspire and illuminate the minds and hearts of Christians today, and even atheists and non-Christians have been impressed with the eloquence and depth of his thought. How we burn, how we let our love for God shine in the world is up to us; St. Thomas and Mother Theresa revealed God in very different ways but both burned brightly. St. Thérèse of Lisieux never left the convent and one might see her as a lamp hidden under a bushel basket; yet her writings revealed a light that still shines brightly in the world over a century after her death.

Let the love of God consume you, transforming all in your life that is “flammable” into holiness, and discarding as ash all that will not yield. Do not worry about running out of fuel; Jesus promises that if we but love Him, we will not run out, for God is love. Yet if we have not love, what little we have will burn up and go out, and there is no darkness more complete than a life without love. Be on fire with the love of God; go and set the world ablaze!

January 28th, 2016