"I baptize you with water for repentance,” says John the Baptist. “But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3:11)

Baptism is often thought of as a “washing away” of our sins. But it is so much more. It is Spirit and FIRE, specifically because He was baptized. And, sharing our human nature, He was One of us. We don’t “imitate” Christ’s baptism; we participate in it. And we don’t just get “washed”; we are buried and re-born to new life, in His Spirit and His fire.

However, just as Jesus was baptized at the very beginning of His public mission, so is our baptism just the beginning. I did, indeed, receive the gift of life in the Holy Spirit, as well as the gift of His “fire,” like a spark, in my heart, at baptism. But this “fire,” which is often but a spark, needs to be constantly tended to and rekindled when necessary. A daily “re-focusing,” - that is, daily “repentance,” does this, when I take a bit of time for it, in prayer, contemplation, and self-examination. Let me remember this gift of Spirit, and fire, which I carry around in my heart, so that I tend to it on a daily basis.

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