May 2012

The Word of Life, taken from Scripture, is offered each month as a guide and inspiration for daily living.

"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12:49).


When we put God’s word into practice, it

»» brings light to our life »» makes us free »» guarantees happiness »» gives us peace »» purifies us »» is effective »» obtains everything »» brings about union with God »» gives us hope of eternal life »» makes us one »» builds community.
from Chiara Lubich, Vivere, Cittá Nuova, 2008

In the Hebrew Scripture fire symbolizes the word of God pronounced by the prophet. But it also signifies the divine judgment that purifies his people by passing in their midst.

We can say the same about the word of Jesus: it builds up, but at the same time it destroys everything that has no consistency, everything that needs to come down, everything that is vanity, and it leaves only the truth standing.

John the Baptist had said of him: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk 3:16), preannouncing the Christian baptism inaugurated on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the appearance of the tongues of fire (See Acts 2:3).

This then is Jesus’ mission: to cast fire on earth, to bring the Holy Spirit with his renewing and purifying force.

"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”

Jesus gives us the Spirit. But how does the Holy Spirit act? He fills us with love and he wants us to keep this love burning in our hearts.

What kind of love is it? It’s not an earthly, limited kind of love. It’s the love of which the Gospel speaks. It’s a universal love, like that of the heavenly Father who makes the sun rise and the rain fall on the good and the bad, including enemies (See Mt 5:45).

It’s a love that doesn’t wait for others to take the first step, but that always takes the initiative by loving first.

It’s a love that makes itself one with everyone: suffering and rejoicing with them, sharing their worries and hopes. And when needed, it does so tangibly, with deeds. So it’s not simply a sentimental love expressed with words alone.

It’s a love directed to Christ in our neighbor, mindful of his words: “You did it for me” (Mt 25:40).

It’s a love that leads to reciprocity, to loving one another.

Because this love is a visible, concrete expression of our life based on the Gospel, it emphasizes and gives witness to the word — a witness we can and must offer in order to evangelize.

"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”

Love is like fire — what is important is to keep it lit. And fire must always burn something. Above all, it must consume our selfishness, and it can do this because by loving, we are projected outside of ourselves: either toward God, by carrying out his will, or toward our neighbors, by helping them. Even a small fire, if it is fed, can become a large blaze — that blaze of love, peace and universal brotherhood that Jesus brought on earth.

Chiara Lubich

Each month a Scripture passage is offered as a guide and inspiration for daily living. This commentary, translated into 96 different languages and dialects, reaches several million people worldwide through print, radio, television and the Internet. Ever since the Focolare’s beginnings, founder Chiara Lubich (1920–2008) wrote her commentaries each month. This one was originally published in August 2001.

Read more on this topic:

  • Life experiences resulting from people’s efforts to put the monthly sentence into practice. Click here!
  • Essential Writings: Essential Writings Chiara Lubich, “Divine Diplomacy,” in Essential Writings (New City Press, 2006) p. 233.
    This selection and arrangement of Chiara Lubich's spiritual writings opens up the heart and soul of one of the most significant religious figures of our times. In our own day, there may be nothing more important than giving witness to the hope and the possibility of unity between and among people of all faiths and of those with no faith at all. This is the legacy Chiara leaves to everyone concerned with the unity of all people.
    Michael Downey
    Editor, The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality Order now on! For more information contact us on:
  • Chiara Lubich, The Art of Loving. (New City Press, 2010) p.41.

    In disarmingly simple down-to-earth language Chiara Lubich draws her readers into the very heart of evangelical love and gently challenges them to start living it. She never tired of repeating the ideas that shine through each of the texts collected in this volume. Even as she lay dying, she urged those around her to spread the gospel message of unity and peace to everyone.
    The few simple phrases that compose her Art of Loving, drawn from the gospels, disclose the secret of human fulfillment found in divine love: “Love everyone,” “Be the first to love,” “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Love each other as I have loved you,” “Make yourself one.”
    Order now on! For more information contact us on:

  • Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, The Practice of Loving Kindness (New City Press, 2003) ISBN 1-56548-180-1
    Through real-life stories and examples, Ruggiero shows how the principle of love of neighbor, present in the scriptures of practically every major religion, can be lived in daily encounters with others in school, in the workplace, at home, and in the community, leading to greater meaning in life and harmony in social relationships.
    Order now on! For more information contact us on:

Next month's Word of life:

June 2012
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (Jn.6:27)

You may be interested in these links:

  • Read experiences some of our readers shared in their efforts to live a previous month’s Word of Life. Click here!
  • The Word of Life in other languages. Click here!
  • The Word of Life in powerpoint presentation. Click here!