Catching Fire

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Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

from ‘Pentecost’ by William Blake


The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was by no means a quiet or gentle event. First there was a powerful wind from heaven – so loud it filled not just the room the apostles were in, but the whole house. Tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, and they suddenly began to speak in foreign languages as they were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’. It must have been a chaotic, intense scene. The poem ‘Pentecost’ by 19th century poet William Blake captures some of the power of the scene, with its repetition of the phrase ‘catch fire’. When a piece of news or gossip gets around quickly, we say it ‘spreads like wildfire’. By its very nature, fire jumps from one things another, burning more intensely the more it spreads.

The symbol of tongues of fire is apt, then. The arrival of the Holy Spirit propels the apostles from the room where they were huddled out into the street. They simply cannot contain themselves as they begin to preach and to spread the Good News far and wide – like wildfire


Last Modified on Fri 13th May 2016 19:09:21

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