The first of a pair of stories about villages catching fire. In this one the fire is a ‘phantom’ fire that roars and crackles, is spread by the wind, appears to do damage, but can’t be extinguished with water. Its purpose is distraction, rather like the seed choked by thorns and thistles. It is only overcome by Cuthbert’s prayer, whereupon it vanishes. Fire is a metaphor for many different types of trial and ordeal, as Bede makes clear at the end of tomorrow’s reading.
The fire on the stand is a metaphor for God’s lamp on our lives – nothing that we do is hidden, so take care to put Jesus’ words into practice. Its an extension of the parable of the sower. But putting these words into practice brings us into the new Eden, and the garden of God’s presence. Hence we become Jesus’ mother and brothers and sisters. The garden is creation, of which all the elements are a part. Hence Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee on the way to the land of the Gerasenes.