One of the most memorable and most beautiful liturgies of the Church year comes at the Easter Vigil. It involves the building, the lighting, the blessing of the new fire of Easter as well as the blessing and lighting of the Easter Candle that leads into the darkened Church and from which all light their candles for the great Exultet - the Easter Proclamation. Moving, powerful, memorable. But the first part, in particular, is often problematic.
I was never a Scout, so the building and management of a fire does not come easily. The new fires of Easter in parishes are found in all shapes and sizes: a little fire in a hibachi grill, a bonfire type of blaze that one of our priests excels in with fire departments on the stand-by, fires in hastily pulled together pits, ours here at SEAS where we use a half barrel on legs (we are using it tomorrow for our parish picnic), and one year I even used a small oil lamp whose flame was woefully inadequate (I learned from my mistake). However the fire is constructed, it needs to be tended, it needs to be substantial and lasting, and it needs watched. But when done correctly, the experience of the fire, the Candle, the flame divided by undimmed, and the Easter Proclamation sung by candlelight is awesome.
Jesus in the Gospel today says that he has come to set the earth on fire. He says that he wishes the blaze was already burning. His fire is not destructive or ravishing, but rather life giving and exciting. His fire is the fire of his love, the fire of enthusiasm found in the Holy Spirit, the fire of renewal and new life that purges our sinfulness and shortcomings and opens the way for Him. Our Faith is not meant to be a small votive candle burning quietly in our lives for our personal devotion, but a roaring fire set ablaze in our hearts that draws others to Him through us. That is what evangelization is all about - stirring the flame of Faith ... coming alive in the Spirit ... sharing the Light with others. We cannot allow our fire to be reduced to embers. We must allow Him to set our hearts on fire. We must stir the flame until it blazes anew.