Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus declares his desire to spread eternal life among human beings. He says, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”
What is that fire? His forerunner, John, gave us a clue: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus came in order to torch the world with the heat and light of the divine Spirit, which is none other than the love shared by the Father and the Son, the very inner life of God.
Jesus is a prophet because he teaches; he is a king because he leads and shepherds; but he is a priest because he is the spreader of the sacred fire. Every one of the baptized shares in the priesthood of Christ and is therefore obligated to be a conduit of holiness, a bearer of the divine life, a spreader of the fire that sets the world ablaze.