(Adults, this reflection considers simply the first two verses of the Gospel reading, but hopefully somehow captures Jesus' meaning.)
Often we think about the gift of our Baptism and what it means. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear Jesus speak about baptism in a new way.
Jesus begins by saying,
“I came to bring 🔥 to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
Jesus comes to bring 🔥? This seems unusual. What can he mean? The 🔥 is not yet kindled, he says. The 🔥 has not begun to burn brightly yet.
We know that 🔥 can be a danger. We do not play with 🔥. We know that Jesus is not fooling around.
We think about 🔥 destroying. Each year, we hear about wildfires blazing in Canada and the United States. So many trees burn down. So many plants and animal homes are destroyed. How can Jesus talk about bringing 🔥 to the earth?
What we do not think a lot about is that 🔥 is necessary for life. Wildfires open up dark forests to the light of the sun. The 🔥 releases nutrients in the soil. Pinecones open, releasing seeds. New life begins to grow. None of this could happen without the 🔥 first.
Could Jesus be thinking about a 🔥 that begins new life?
I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!
Jesus has already been baptized by John in the Jordan river and yet he talks about a baptism that is not yet complete. He says he is under stress. The baptism he thinks about is not easy. What can he mean now?
We remember 🔥 that destroys and 🔥 that brings new life. Could the baptism he means be like 🔥?
We know what happens.
We know Jesus dies. His life is destroyed.
But we also know that he rises to new life, never to die again—new life that could not happen without death first.
Perhaps the baptism he thinks of is his death and Resurrection.
No wonder he wants it complete! New Life!
Jesus says he comes to bring 🔥 to the earth. This baptism of death and Resurrection is for the earth. He knows the earth needs the New Life of Resurrection; he knows we need the New Life of God.
After his death and Resurrection, Jesus begins to share this New Life. We hear:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of 🔥, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Jesus gives the Holy Spirit, the bringer of New Life, first to the apostles and Mary, and then onwards to more and more people. We hear:
Those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
Three thousand people! And that is just the beginning!
The 🔥 of the Holy Spirit spreads to more and more people throughout all the years, throughout all the world. It comes to you and it comes to me. How long will the 🔥 of the Holy Spirit spread bringing New Life?
No wonder Jesus says he wishes the 🔥 were already kindled!