March 16, 2007

Be Our Guest / Fr. Bernard Varghese, O.F.M. Cap.

Learn to distinguish the different fires in your senses and life

During the holy season of Lent, we Catholics practice some sort of mortification and penance for the forgiveness of our sins.

Very often, we do this by saying “no” to our selfishness, greed, and impulses of the flesh and senses. This week, I would like to reflect about our senses and life, and compare it with fire.

Whatever we put into the fire of senses and life burns. We know from our daily experience that if we burn a tire or plastic, it will emit toxic gases which cause pollution and a foul smell. But if we instead burn sandalwood or a candle, it will give off a pleasing fragrance.

What does that mean? Some fires pollute while others purify.

It is the same with our life and senses. Some of the impulses of our senses pollute not only our life but also the lives of others. Similarly, some senses purify our life as well as the lives of others. Everything depends on what we put into the fire of our senses.

Common sense and practical experience teach us that the supreme quality or the positive aspect of fire is to create light and warmth. The medium quality of fire creates light and also a little smoke. But the lowest quality of fire produces only smoke and darkness.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). That is, we are supposed to produce the highest or supreme quality of fire: light and warmth.

We all received the same call—to give light and warmth to others. Jesus exhorts us to produce this quality in our daily lives (Lk 12:36).

Therefore, let us learn to distinguish the different fires in our senses and life. If our senses are engaged in goodness, where solid values and morals are evident, then we will produce light, warmth and fragrance. If we are engaged in impurity, where selfishness and hatred shine through, then we will produce smoke and darkness.

The ultimate result depends on the input we place on the fire of senses. “A good tree produces good fruits. A bad tree produces bad fruits. For every tree is known by its own fruits” (Lk 7: 43-44).

(Capuchin Franciscan Father Bernard Varghese is in residence at St. Louis Parish in Batesville.) †


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