“Something like a burning fire shut up in my bones …” 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 

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Were you able to restrain yourself when you were a child, especially if you had exciting news or what you saw as a burning question? The child needs to grow into a sense of patience, but also knowledge of priorities.

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Interrupting a parent during a heavy conversation with a superior could be problematic, whereas rushing to interrupt a conversation because the house is on fire could be a matter of life and death. The parent, likewise has things to learn, especially around the formation of children.

I saw a post on Facebook recently which showed a child with uncontrollable excitement, jumping up and down. It was a beautiful image. We know that it is a potentially dangerous thing to ruin that energy and discourage that in a person. Far better that we grow into appropriate ways of expression.

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In the case of those who have had a strong experience of God’s grace, there is often an uncontrollable urge to tell about the experience. The Resurrection accounts are filled with images of excitable followers of Jesus who simply cannot wait patiently to tell others about what they have experienced.

“Go quickly and tell his disciples.” We hear of people running to the tomb. “Were not our hearts burning within us when he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

The scripture readings today show us that the urge to speak of the Lord is not restricted to matters such as the Resurrection. The Prophet Jeremiah: “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones: I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

Psalm 63 describes our thirst for God in equally strong language. “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Once we recognize it, what do we do with this burning thirst? It’s a creative spark that is behind much creativity. Let’s find ways to channel that. Many thinkers and writers speak of the importance of educating the imagination.

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I recently came across Blue Pastures by Mary Oliver. “There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power nor time.”

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

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