“what counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it is deadwood, it goes on the fire.” – Matthew 3:10 [The Message translation]
The dried up branches are thrown into the fire.
Again and again there is a burning, a fire at work me, in my very body it feels; at work in my whole human being, body, soul and spirit. There is always something destroyed, consumed, burned up by this fire. But there is always also something that remains. What better way to describe that which remains after the burning, after the fire, than the words from Matthew’s gospel about that which bears fruit, which is green and blossoming?
The fruitful part of me.
The part of me that has an inner sap that is rising upwards towards the heavens, seeking the light and warmth that radiates from the celestial center of our cosmos. There, at the tips of the tree branches, at the height of the trees the fruits are ripened by what can be received from above. The tree sends its life forces as high as it can, the ripening, the sweetening, the making fruitful is done by a power that is beyond what it itself can do. All those parts of the tree where the upward striving life-sap has withdrawn and there is only dry wood eventually break off and become compost on the ground below.
The part of my humanity that is truly reaching towards the meaning of life, the eternal truths of existence, the part that is striving to manifest this truth in the form of goodness in all my deeds – this part always survives the fire, for its very nature is actually fire:
“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama – compared to him I’m a mere stagehand – will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.” – Matthew 3:11 [The Message translation]
As we enter the summer months and move from the fire of Pentecost to the fire of St. John’s we can discover this two-fold nature of the flames – the burning flame of my conscience and the creative spiritual fire within, the fruitful self-hood of which we hear in the communion service: “the fire of love”.
– Patrick Kennedy