Baptism by fire

Homily for the Baptism of the Lord (C)

“One mightier than I is coming… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Put aside for a moment everything you think you know about baptism, and imagine you are hearing John the Baptist’s words for the first time.  You’ve seen John calling sinners to repent, warning of punishments to come if they don’t, and then dunking them in the Jordan River as a sign of conversion.  And now he says a mightier one is coming, who will use fire instead of water.  Is it a promise or a warning?

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