The purifying fire
(Our life in the Holy Trinity)
The symbol of fire is used for our relationship with the divine. It can be meditated upon on more than one level. All aspects of our understanding of this ‘fire’ are at bottom based on our relationship with it. St. John of the Cross in his book “The living Flame of Love”, talks about how the fire of God’s love heals and in that healing wounds us on a deeper level. So fire is both a healer and a purifier in the souls of men and women who seek God.
In human relationships, the fire of love, no matter how it is experienced, be it in the role as parents, lovers, or with good friends, also has a purifying role to play. There is always a give and a take in good relationships. If that is missing, then the relationship is something other than love or friendship. Then the fire, if there is deep attachment, or obsession, will become destructive, painful and then becomes a cycle of unending pain if the relationship survives on some level. For the fire of love can become the ice cold blast of hatred.
In “the Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, he explains the purifying role the love of God plays in our relationship with him. For there are aspects of our souls that only the grace of God can reach and heal, which can be a painful process. The pain does not come from God, but from us. Our fear causes resistance, it is often unconscious, and so only God’s love can bring this to healing. The human soul is made for complete union with God, to participate at ever deeper union in the life of the Holy Trinity. The salvation of Jesus Christ is total. We are not like piles of dung and Jesus is the snow that covers us, or hides us from the Father, no we are completely transformed.
So we have the fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Purgatory and the fire of Hell. It is the same fire; it is our relationship with the fire that makes it what it is. Total rejection of God’s love, may it never happen, but Jesus says it does, causes pain, for love rejected does not change the nature of God’s love, but it is experienced as wrath and punishment. It is self inflicted. God does not torture, God is love.
All that keeps us from the full of embrace of God’s love has to be healed through the grace and love of Jesus Christ. if there is still fear, then the fire is experienced as purifying and it expands our ability to love. When our wills are one with God, then the fire of God’s love is experienced as the love of the Holy Trinity, something we are all made for.
St. Paul says that we will all be tried by fire, and all that is not of God, will be burned away. In the end it is all grace, mercy, and the embraced of a loving God. I believe that Christians when they pray stand with Christ Jesus, we are all mediators though grace for all of mankind. So as our hearts grow in love, so we grow in love and the desire for the salvation of all. Our hearts slowly break, for we are called to die to self and allow the love of God to truly break our hearts in love and to grow for an eternity in this all loving embrace of God’s love, God’s fire.