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Set My Heart Ablaze
Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, thank you for meeting me here in this time of prayer. I give you thanks for your love for me, for your mercy, and for your forgiveness. I believe that you are with me in every moment of my day. I hope in your goodness and your provision of all that I need. I love you, Lord, and desire to love you above all else. Help me embrace all that you ask of me with great confidence in you.
- A Heart on Fire: What is the fire Christ brought to earth and desires to see blazing? It is the fire of charity. The image of the Sacred Heart shows this flame coming from Christ’s heart. In the Catechism, the Sacred Heart is described as “the chief sign and symbol of that…love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception” (CCC 478). Some holy cards have the inscription, “Here is the heart that loved men so much,” and a traditional ejaculatory prayer is “Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love of us, inflame our hearts with love of you.” Knowing that Christ’s heart burns with a passionate love for each and every person, we desire to burn with that same love.
- The Earth: By his purifying fire, Christ redeemed not only mankind but all of creation: “For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God…in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now…” (Romans 8:19-22). And as creation awaits the fullness of redemption, it witnesses to God. “Even before revealing himself to man in words of truth, God reveals himself to him through the universal language of creation, the work of his Word, of his wisdom: the order and harmony of the cosmos–which both the child and the scientist discover–‘from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator,’ ‘for the author of beauty created them’” [Wisdom. 13:3, 5] (CCC 2500). We are invited to encounter God and celebrate his glory in the beauty of his creation.
- A Contradiction: Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and yet in this passage we are told that he came not to establish peace but division. The peace Christ brings is the fruit of knowing the truth, living in that truth, and accepting his love. When people reject truth, conflicts and divisions occur. Some of the divisiveness is relational, as described in this passage, but we can also experience restlessness and anxiety interiorly. As St. Paul wrote, “For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. … For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Romans 7:15, 19). Whether we battle interior or exterior division, our challenge is to embrace all that Christ calls us to through Scripture and the teachings of his Church, and to strengthen ourselves through the sacraments so that we can be his peacemakers in the world.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, your burning love is the source of peace. I want to open my heart to your love so that I can be inflamed with love for you. The more I love you, the more I will follow your commandments and do your will peacefully and joyfully. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Transform my heart and make it like yours.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend five minutes reflecting on some aspect of nature that draws me closer to you, and I will share this with a family member, a friend, or someone I meet today.
For Further Reflection: Pray through this traditional prayer to the Sacred Heart and the following indulgenced ejaculations (exclamatory prayers) to the Sacred Heart.
O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore Thee, I love Thee, and with a lively sorrow for my sins, I offer Thee this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure, and wholly obedient to Thy will. Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in Thee and for Thee. Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflictions; give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, Thy blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Within Thy Heart I place my every care. In every need let me come to Thee with humble trust saying Heart of Jesus help me.
Merciful Jesus, I consecrate myself today and always to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I implore that I may ever love Thee more and more.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Thy love for me.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, convert sinners, save the dying, deliver the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
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