Doing Our Part to Fan the Flame

Today’s first Mass reading comes from the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy. In it, Paul reminds Timothy to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

What a wonderful image: Stir into flame the gift of God. As I’ve said before, it is an image I love.

I was never very good at starting campfires. Trying to get a tinder to catch is hard enough, but then getting that to flame into a fire requires continued work (as well as patience and persistence). The initial spark doesn’t turn into a roaring fire on its own.

Likewise we are given wonderful the gift of God, but it is for us to stir it into flame. We’ve been given the spark and it is for us to patiently and persistently nurture it and allow it to grow. God invites us to be co-creators and doesn’t do all the heavy lifting for us.

Not only do we have a role, but Paul makes clear there will be difficulties, telling Timothy to “bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” And that (going back to the theme of my post yesterday) is an important part of the message for us to remember. As with everything else, we are expected to do nothing on our own; everything we do, we do with God.