The destructiveness of fire and its deadly consumption of all that is in its path comes racing to mind when I hear that Jesus wants to set the world ablaze. What does he mean in saying that  he wants to set the earth on fire?

Consider the jack pine in the northern parts of the central and eastern United States and Canada – one of several serotinous plants – that is dependent upon extreme heat for new growth. The jack pine cones are glued shut with a resin that remains unless fire sweeps through and melts the resin and releases the seeds.

Jesus is lighting a fire inside each of us so that old habits, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes that don’t allow for growth melt away and we can grow in the virtues of the Gospel. What does Jesus want to burn away within me? How can I help him kindle that fire?

—Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. serves as Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, WI.