To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said:
‘If you make my word your home
you will indeed be my disciples,
you will learn the truth
and the truth will make you free.’
The heart of the home in years past was the hearth.
It was at the hearth that the family gathered for the warmth and light of the flame and the food that was prepared there.
The fire was treated with respect since the same flame which provided energy for the home could just as easily destroy it.
It is a tragedy that the fire so central at the Pentecost birth of the Church has too often been used by Christians to punish prophets with burnings at the stake and firepower, and the more subtle but just as fatal fire and brimstone sermons that communicated human fears rather than divine love.
And so easily the greatest power of good ever unleashed on earth in Jesus Christ, God-with-us, is used to justify evil.
Most of us don’t have as much direct contact with naked flame today apart the occasional lighting of the recreational barbecue or a meditation candle.
While the fire of the hearth is no longer the centre of a family home, we are most at home where our heart dwells.
A person without a personal centre, an inner hearth where the fire of God’s love burns, giving light and warmth and nourishment, will succumb to every fad and fashion, a rudderless ship without direction. purpose or destination.
When we take time for prayer, often not in formal or vocal prayer but in relaxed contemplation are sitting at the hearth with Jesus, whose fire warms, whose light illumines and whose body sustains us in every moment.
“Contemplation is nothing else
but a secret,
and loving infusion of God,
which, if admitted,
will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love.”