COR THOUGHTS 256: The Holy Spirit as Flamethrower


This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost. In the first reading, we hear that “tongues as of fire … came to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2). Maybe you’re familiar with those icons of Pentecost in which a little candle flame floats above the apostles’ heads. A “tongue of fire,” however, is not a little flicker. It’s more like the firey blast of a flamethrower. This is the fire of God we’re talking about here – something infinite, something hotter than the sun! Let’s put that in perspective. Imagine you were gathered around a campfire so hot that you had to stand about 20 feet away from it so you didn’t get burned. That’s a pretty big fire. Now imagine a fire so big you had to stand a mile away. That’s an enormous fire. Keep going to 10 miles … then a hundred miles. How big a fire are we talking about now? And that’s nothing compared to the sun – a fire we have to “stand” 93 million miles away from so as not to be burnt to a crisp. And that’s only a created image of the fire that Christ came to cast upon the earth (see Lk 12:49). The Holy Spirit is that fire. Eros is the yearning of our hearts and bodies to be set ablaze by this Infinite love. This Pentecost, let us not be afraid to burn!