What does it mean to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire?

Last Sunday St. John the Baptist gave us his witness as the forerunner of the Messiah. Again, this Sunday, we hear his testimony.

St. John the Baptist in his sermon says that Jesus will come and baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” What does it mean to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire? These words of the Baptist reveal to us the deep purification Jesus desires for our souls.

The catechism of the Catholic Church in number 2013, says: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). This call to holiness is for everyone of the Baptized. It is of utmost importance that those who have been baptized actively engage in their purification and their salvation.

On the day of our Baptism, we have been purified, we are made new and are cleansed from original sin. Despite the fact that we are completely cleansed from all our faults at the moment of our Baptism, we still carry within us the tendency to fall into sin.

The Christian journey in which we embark, requires from us a constant effort to change our paths. Following the Baptist’s advice, “whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (Lk 3:11); “collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (Lk 3:13); “do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages” (Lk 3:14).

Practicing St. John the Baptist’s exhortations will help us to avoid sin. By practicing them we avoid hoarding, selfishness, avarice, injustice, etc. Avoiding sin can be a painful process. It does hurt, but that is the purification we are meant to undergo. Our Lord purifies us with a Baptism of fire.

Advent is the suitable time for you to reflect upon the purification to which God may be calling you. What is it that you hold on to that He wants you free of? Commit yourself to the purifying fire of God’s love and let that love cleanse you in this Advent season.