On any given day, I have access to 48 million books on my Kindle. Many are classics but most are not. As Christians, the book of all books is the Bible. If McDonalds can claim billions sold, so can Flannery O’Connor’s Bible salesman, Manley Porter.
Remember reading Ray Bradley’s book, Fahrenheit 451? The title of the book is the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burn.
In today’s Old Testament reading, Ezra reads from the Old Testament. Ezra led a group of Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem. God’s people were adrift intermarry the pagan neighbors. They needed help. God sent Ezra, an average priest by all accounts. Ezra stands on a wooden platform and reads Scripture offering commentary. The result?
“The people bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD, their faces to the ground.” The people of God catch fire.
Why is it the Word of God creates heat?
When Jesus rose from the dead, the apostles said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24).
The Apostle Paul was Timothy’s Ezra/Nehemiah. He encouraged his spiritual son Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6)
Timothy was about to catch fire.
Today’s readings teach us there are three ways to Catch Fire:
- The Church –Christ’s body, made up of bishops, deacons, teachers….with one goal–to stir your flame (cf. I Corinthians 12-14).
- The Bible– Jeremiah writes: “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? (Jeremiah 23:29)
- The Poor–When we stand before God, we escape God’s fire by His grace as we serve the weakest members of society (cf. f. Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 24-25)
WARNING: If you catch the fire of God, be prepared to go through the fire. To put in the language of the Church Fathers, “Better to burn now than later.”
How highly do we value God’s Church, the Bible and the Poor. “Imagine a lover who has received a letter from his beloved. I assume that God’s Word is just as precious to you as this letter is to the lover. I assume that you read and think you ought to read God’s Word in the same way.” Soren Kierkegaard