Two days ago, I felt the gentle nudging at the back of my mind to attend Nox Gaudii by the Office for Young People (OYP) which I have not attended since last year due to many commitments. I went with my community and was reminded of the need of being on fire, which is the passion to evangelize our faith unto others and to also grow in our own personal encounter with God.
Once again, I could fill the energy of the Holy Spirit in the hall as the session opened with the usual praise and worship. It was a wonderful experience to see the young people being connected to the music and also to let Jesus speak to them through the lyrics of the songs. The theme for the session was “Being a Church on Fire” and it spoke to me on many levels, such as for the community and also in my life that the fire to do God’s will and work should never fizzle out. The fire should be kept lighted, strong and not waver.
A church has to be on fire (not in the literal sense) but that fire should be in all of us including the priests so that the church can have the energy and zeal to continue to reach out to those interested to know Jesus and those who have not known Jesus yet. The metaphors best used to describe the two polar opposites that the church could move would be a fireplace or an ice cube (frozen fossil)
Sometime back in 1991, two German tourists came across Otzi, a perfectly well preserved man that dated to 3300BC on the east ridge of the Fineilspitze in the Otztal Alps on the Austrian- Italian Border. Otzi was put into a museum for display and sometimes, we wish that the church was that of a frozen fossil or ice cube so that we can just come during weekends and the journey stops there. Our faith will remain lukewarm if we are complacent and the church will slowly die because it lacks the fire of the Holy Spirit and rigour of the community to move forward together.
Rather a church should be like a fireplace where there is the presence of warmth,light and comfort so that everyone can gather and experience Jesus. The church should be a fireplace where everyone is included and can be in communion with Jesus. In Luke 12:49, Jesus says,”I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” which is a reminder to us to make use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer to continue to reach out to the existing community and those outside of the community. Yes,it will take time but it will help establish interpersonal relationships with others and also with Jesus at the same time.
On Friday, the Catholic Church also remembers St Philip Minh Van Doan, who were martyrs fearlessly evangelizing the Catholic faith despite the hostility against Christianity. They paid the price with their life but never once did they hesitate as they had the desire to tell people about Jesus. I was grateful for this reminder as sometimes, I do not feel the fire and worries and anxieties make me forget that everything is possible with Jesus. After leaving the session, I had re-kindled that fire again to serve and I know that I have to keep the fire burning and to keep Jesus at the center of my life. Being a church on fire means also praying for our priests that they can carry out their duties and be rejuvenated by the fire that they see in us.
Here is an upbeat praise and worship song by Casting Crowns called Thrive which will remind us to keep that fire burning to know Jesus and to reach out to others:
“So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire
Just to know You and
To make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive
Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible”
God Bless as we continue to keep the young people in our prayers and to pray for the church that it continues to grow in the spirit that never burns out! “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong