Love is on everyone’s mind this week — Valentine’s Day and St. Josephine Bakhita (Saturday), surely an example of steadfast love as ever. Aquinas wrote that “love means to will the good of the other, purely and simply.”

This theme of love and the contests of wills runs right though the readings. Behind the words in the father’s letter to his son in Sirach, is great love that knows we are chosen, protected, and called to higher life that keeps and builds up God commandments. The father and the Father are concerned for the welfare of their children.

Why the choice of fire and water? In the classica world, it was on water that one swore oaths and proved one’s innocense. The steady and sure hand held hovering at the water’s surface suggests a lack of nervousness and steadiness; when the water is not sure but disturbed by a shaking hand, it was taken to show a lack of truth, fear, and unsteadiness in the words. Too chose fire meant destruction, because the hand would burn, and ban extension the person would be choosing the way of fire, which is the way of destruction/.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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