Jesus says, “I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” (Luke 12:49) This is two thousand years ago. How are we doing? Is the earth on fire with the love of Jesus? Is our world on fire with the love of Jesus? Are our families on fire with the love of Jesus?
There is only one thing that can set people on fire with the love of Jesus and that is a relationship with Him. And a relationship means you spend time with someone. If you want to set your marriage on fire, what do you need to do with your spouse? Spend time with them. If you want to set your relationship with your children on fire, what do you need to do with them? Spend time with them.
But the reality is that we as Christians who profess Jesus to be God, we don’t like to spend time with Him. It’s just true and, if we want to set the world on fire, we must spend time with Jesus. There is a new saint in the Catholic Church. His name is St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia. He was a young priest who ultimately became a bishop. When he arrived at his first parish assignment as a young zealous priest the parish was dead. Hardly anyone came to Church, there were no young people at all and when he approached the tabernacle in the center of the parish Church there were cobwebs and dust. And he set bound and determined to convert his parish. And he knew the only way to do it and that was to have people fall in love with Jesus. And we know where Jesus is, He’s right here in the tabernacle.
I could read off Scripture after Scripture and you can’t argue with the fact that Jesus becomes substantially present in our midst at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and we house Him in our Catholic Churches and tabernacles. So, if Jesus wants to set the world on fire, He’s going to do it one way and that is by us spending time with the one we claim to love—which is Jesus.
In the letter to the Hebrews, it says “Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.” How will we persevere? How will we set the world on fire? By keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. Where do we know through Scripture and tradition that Jesus is right now? He’s right there in the tabernacle, we know it. The question is, do we keep our eyes fixed on Him? And it’s hard.
St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia says that the greatest penance that you can offer is forcing yourself to spend time in silent prayer. The greatest penance that you can do is to force yourself to spend time in silent prayer and adoration. It’s a greater penance than cold showers and sleeping down on the floor, than flogging yourself, than starving yourself, with all the different types of foods and diets. The greatest penance you can do is to force yourself to sit down and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
But, what do we not want to do? Pray. We’re busy, we have a lot going on. We have our phones and our iPads and all these things that distract us. And you, my brothers and sisters, we want to set the world on fire. We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and we need to come to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. So, I’m giving you a homework assignment. This is a devotion that, when I was in seminary and I had to start doing a holy hour, this is the little prayer aid that helped me to fall deeply and madly in love with Jesus and to spend more and more time with Him in adoration. It helped me to keep my eyes fixed on Him in the tabernacle—who is Jesus.
My homework assignment for you is to take this meditation at some point during this week—not next week and not the following week, not next month, this week—and go to one of our Catholic Churches. Come, take this meditation and waste time with Jesus and keep your eyes fixed on Him. And I guarantee you that if you bring this meditation to the Church and you sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and you read through this prayer guide prayerfully you will find joy and peace. And you will leave renewed in your faith and from that that is the only way that we’re going to set the world on fire—by individuals personally, intimately entering into relationship with Jesus and then sharing that with the world.
“I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” May Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, may our Lord, King, Savior, and Lamb of God, may He lead us and in doing so lead us to eternal life.