Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings from Montana! I don’t know quite how I will have arrived in Big Sky country: our proposed routes (as of this writing, still not fully defined) might have taken us through Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming, or through Indiana and South Dakota, or maybe even a jaunt through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. However it happened, by August 14, I’m in Montana.
In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks of His desire for the world to be ablaze with the fire of His love. The image is a powerful one, for fire, properly contained and fed, is a tremendous gift. Fire gives light and warmth, enables the preparation of food and the making of crafts and tools. A blazing fire is a sign of welcome and hope. Yet there is something wild in our Lord’s words, as well, as He speaks not of peace but of division. The Gospel is at once a message that welcomes, warms, and edifies, and a message that is rejected and rebelled against. “For the word of the Lord is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Rather than see contradiction, we might best apply a different characteristic to fire. In the metaphor our Lord uses, fire purifies. It separates the good from the bad, removes defects, and clears away obstacles. The fire of the Gospel, the fire with which Jesus wants the world to burn, will purify those who believe, remove sin, and rightly order relationships.
It is not lost on me that this Gospel is proclaimed on the day I arrive in Montana, a state that has been at increasing risk for wildfires over the last several years. Upon landing in Bozeman last year, I was surprised to see a thick haze of smoke from wildfires hanging in the air. Naturally, I have no desire to see any up close. And so it is comforting to know that the fire Jesus speaks of is symbolic, a spiritual fire that He enkindles in the hearts of believers. May this fire truly burn for each of us, inspiring our hearts to greater love, purifying our souls, and preparing us to carry the light and love of the Gospel to the whole world.
The Solemnity of the Assumption is August 15. Because this great solemnity falls on a Monday this year, it is not a holy day of obligation. Nevertheless, it is an important feast of the Blessed Mother, so I encourage you to attend Mass if you are able. The regular schedule for Monday Masses will be followed: 8:30 AM, and a Traditional Latin Mass at 7 PM.