Unleash the Gospel! As we live and breath the New Evangelization, these stirring words serve as a rallying cry, just as they have throughout the ages. St. Ignatius frequently used them as he sent his missionaries out into the world. “I have come to set the world on fire,” Jesus said, “Oh how I wish it were already burning” (Luke 12:49-50).
This powerful text challenges us to allow God to kindle within us the love of Christ and act in such a way that we spread that love throughout the world. Pope Benedict XVI explains the fire Jesus is referring to as His passionate love. He wrote, “It is a fire that must be passed on, a fire that makes things bright and pure and free.” Entrusting ourselves to that fire, we are made bright and pure and free. But it doesn’t stop there! Not unlike the Jesuits, we are also missionaries, commissioned to go out into the world, setting it on fire with the transforming love of Christ.
As inept or unworthy as we may feel, we take our cue from the apostles who literally turned the world upside down, witnessing their faith regardless of the circumstances. Reassuring them before returning to His Father, Jesus said, “I am going to send you what the Father has promised,” and you will be “clothed with the power from on high” (Luke 24:49). It is through that same Holy Spirit that we too are “clothed in the power from on high.” Let’s go, therefore, and set the world on fire!