He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire

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Gentle readers, Do you think that we talk a lot about being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire these days? Actually, it might not  even be considered polite in today’s religiously cautious world! Just so we’re using the same image, this is the Fire that underlies our passion for God, the desire to transform our lives, and the zeal that empowers and brightens our lives. There was a time when people thought that baptism was only for “washing babies’ souls of the stain of original sin,” but most people today think beyond this narrow definition. We might not consciously think about Baptism and its power, yet we sign ourselves with holy water each time we enter our church, reminding ourselves of our baptism and affirming our Christian Catholic identity and mission each Sunday. When we do this, do we remember the Fire, the Blessing? I hope so.

Think forward to the book in Sacred Scripture that follows the Gospel according to John – the Acts of the Apostles. We don’t know if the apostles were baptized with John’s baptism of repentance, but we know that they really didn’t get very far until they were baptized with the Spirit. It was this Spirit and Fire that gave them the strength, the boldness and the passion to take the risk of proclaiming Jesus to their world. The Spirit gave them the strength to die as martyrs, to preach in mission countries when they were shaking in their sandals, and the boldness to defy the greatest military force in the world.

I don’t know about you, but I’d surely like to regain some of that Fire – just think of the good we could do in this troubled (often toxic) world! We’d have the courage to take real risks and become the complete, mature people that Jesus calls us to be. We’d have the boldness to work for peace, to relieve suffering, and bring God’s love to everyone we meet. We can be assured that the Spirit and the Fire will make sure that what we do “isn’t all about us,” but everything about Jesus.

Dorothy Hathway, CSJA