Today’s Reading: Matthew 3: 7-12
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit that befits repentance, 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Today’s Commentary: Matthew 3:11
I baptize you: John’s baptism differed from sacramental Baptism, which confers forgiveness and the regenerating grace of justifying faith (Acts 2:38). His was a visible token of repentance and preparation for the Messiah (cf. Is1:16; Heb 9:10; CCC 718).
with water: John administered a baptism by water alone as a sign of purification. But as was shown in Noah’s day, water alone cannot cleanse the soul; the sinfulness of man’s heart remained unchanged even after the flood (Gen 6:5; 8:21). Only the Sacrament of Baptism infuses the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5) and marks one’s adoption into God’s family (28:19) (CCC 1265).
with fire: A symbol of God and his purifying judgment (Deut 4:24; Sir 2:5; Is 4:3-5; Acts 2:3-4; CCC 696).