‘I am reminding you now to fan into flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you.’ – 2Tim 1:6

My Way
I have had cause in recent times to reflect on the whole mystery of growth. Growth is one thing we all know but find very difficult to explain. We recognise it over a long period of time. But we are unable to experience it as it happens. But there are some things about growth that we often cannot deny. It can be painful and this part makes us wonder if it is indeed growth or death. Imagine a young man who has been struggling with telling the truth. His parents and friends have written him off as a compulsive and irretractable liar. Yet he fights the urge daily and spends more time praying against his lying tendencies than anything else. Even in his daily life, he tells the truth even before he has a moment to weigh the consequences in a hope to escape the hovering cloud of darkness that has tailed him for too long. Despite his best efforts, he is falsely accused of stealing his company’s goods, framed by his one-time close friend. He is honestly trying to change but this has sent all his attempts at recreating himself back to the Stone Ages. He is left wondering, “Lord, I thought that if I made effort and worked on myself, you will shed your precious light of favour upon me. What is happening?” To his mind, this is death, the killing of his best intentions. Where he sees death, God sees the necessary ingredient for growth.
God’s Way
Jesus tells us, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it yields a rich harvest” (Jn 12:24). Growth is initiated by God. Our best effort won’t cut it. So should the young man in the story stop telling the truth? No, he should keep at it. To turn back will be to affirm all that has been said of him. Telling the truth against all odds is to bury the relic of the past, to put the old self to death so that something new can grow. But that growth is not entirely up to Him. It may be slow but it is taking place and in the fullness of time, a new person will be born from the old seed.
Fan it to Flame
In similar circumstances, we grow in the spirit and burn brightly when we protect the flame of grace that we received at baptism. This flame is capable of transforming anyone from bad to exceptionally good because it is the Spirit of God. Like a seed buried in the ground, it can grow into a huge tree producing fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22,23). The seed which Christ sowed in the heart of St Paul at his conversion bore great fruits in the lives of Saints Timothy and Titus who in turn ministered to whole cities as bishops, shepherds of the people of Ephesus and Crete respectively. The seed of faith you received at baptism yearns for growth. It is yours to tend, nourish and strengthen. What do you feed it? Junk or healthy contents? Fan the seed of faith into flame with the right ideas about God, salvation, and the purpose and destiny of the human person. God made you. He wants you to live in heaven for an eternity of joy. He wants you to accept yourself as a man or woman who reflects his glory everytime and everywhere. Let God’s word guide you daily and let the prayer of the Church strengthen you. You are never alone.
Lord, strengthen me through the painful throes of daily growth. May the challenges I encounter strengthen me and arm me with the needed lessons for life and eternal happiness.
Today’s Readings
2Tim 1:1-8; Ps 96:1-3,7-8,10; Mk 4:26-34