BAPTIZED WITH FIRE
“When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. For he says: ‘By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding…’ Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The Light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day… In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.” (Is 10: 12, 16-17, 20)
In this passage from the great Prophet Isaiah, read today at the Lenten service of the Sixth Hour, the “Holy One of Israel,” our Lord Jesus Christ, is called a “fire.” In “one day,” He burns and destroys the “arrogant boasting” and “haughty pride” of the earthly king of Assyria, upon whom we once “leaned.” On “that day,” in other words, we are liberated from the bondage of delusional arrogance that once “smote” us, and are given to do the will of the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
I let “that day” be today for me, as I re-focus on the spark given to me in Holy Baptism; the spark of “the Holy Spirit and fire” (cf. Lk 3: 16). I open up to God’s grace in some heartfelt prayer this rainy Wednesday morning, letting His “fire” devour the ultimately-crippling, haughty kingship of self-reliance. And I let His Spirit guide me to do the next right thing, according to my little responsibilities before Him today, in His faith and humility. “But give to me, your servant, a spirit of whole-mindedness, humility, patience, and love.” (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem) Amen!