Fire From Heaven: A Poem

Posted by James Hahn on

Tuesday October 1st
St. Therese of the Child Jesus (St. Therese of Liseux)

Luke 9:51-56

The hill of blood,
The place of the skull,
Doth beckon.
Thy face is set,
None can change,
Thee with sin shall reckon

Receive you not,
Nor shall you pass,
Through Gerizim gate.
They turn thee away,
And receive you not,
For Jerusalem they hate.

Thy men enraged,
With unholy zeal,
Set to command the fire.
'Tis not Your will,
You rule with love,
And not the threat of pyre.

Thy gentle tongue,
Sets hearts aright,
As further on you travel.
Thy face is set,
On the place of skulls,
The grasp of sin to be unraveled.

Author's Note:  I realize that not everyone appreciates poetry.  In speaking with friends and family, this disdain for poetry often arises from confusion or the inability to understand exactly what the poem is getting at.  I completely understand this situation.  I too struggle and find myself reading a poem or even a stanza over and over trying to catch the meaning.  I believe it's taboo for a poet to explain his or her work.  That, so the thought carries, should be done by scholars and students in the years to come.

I think that's a load of you know what.  I developed a love for poetry when I understood what the poet was saying.  I fell in love with Gerald Manley Hopkins after taking a class in college where I learned how to read his work and many others.  I was trained to see the words used, meter, style, and pace.  G.K. Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse was a pleasure to read once I got into the story behind the lines.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien is still one of my all time favorites.  There is a simple beauty in poetry than cannot be found in traditional styles of writing.

Below you will find my explanation of what I have written and why.  I want you to enjoy my poems.  I want you to understand the poetry and fall in love with the art.  In November, God willing, I'll be publishing a book of poetry that follows this style.  The front of the book with be filled with my poetry.  Some of it with be about personal events I have experienced and some of it will be stories and lessons about life, love, and family.  Much of it is my interpretation of certain Scripture passages in a poetic form like what you just read.  In the back of the book, each poem will have some commentary that explains the words used, the context, and why it was written the way it was written.  My hope is that you, the reader, will be lifted up to another level of seeing, of understanding.  It is my hope that you too will fall in love with the poetic form and it's power.  Thanks for reading!  If you'd like to be the first to know when the book is available, send me an email and you'll be the first to know!

1st Stanza - Here Jesus is heading toward Calvary, Golgotha, also known as the place of the skull.  This is his mission, his calling, and nothing can change his plan.  It is here that, as St. Paul says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin." (2 Cor 5:21)...and St. John, "Indeed , the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8).

2nd Stanza - The Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies.  Samaritans were a sort of fallen-away Jewish people who had adopted the customs and parts of the religion of their captors during the Babylonian captivity.  Jews believed the only place to truly worship was Jerusalem while the Samaritans thought otherwise and had many cities of worship with Mount Gerizim being the holiest of all.  

3rd Stanza - James and John, indignant of the treatment they receive from the Samaritans, ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy the place.  They are zealous for the Lord but have not yet learned that the law of Jesus' kingdom is the law of love "bless those who persecute you."  Jesus has come to set the world on fire but it is with the fire of love.  Pyre is an older word for fire or the materials used for a fire often during the burning of a body as part of the funeral ceremony.  

4th Stanza - Jesus rebukes the disciples but we are not told what he says to James and John.  He leads by example.  In the same chapter he told them to "shake the dust from their feet" when they aren't accepted and so we can imagine he does so and moves on.  He has bigger things to deal with, namely sin, whose grasp on humanity He is going to destroy.

FROM THE SAINTS - “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” - St. Therese of Lisieux

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How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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