Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

“... and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11:16.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today.:

“The people received John, who was less than Christ. They reflected and thought, “Perhaps he is the Christ.” But they did not receive him who had come, who was greater than John. Do you want to know the reason? Recognize this: John’s baptism could be seen; the baptism of Christ was invisible. John said, “For I baptize you in water, but he who comes after me is greater than I. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.” When does Jesus baptize “with the Holy Spirit”? And again, when does he baptize “with fire”? Does he baptize at one and the same time “with Spirit and fire,” or at distinct and different times? He says, “But you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.” After his ascension into heaven, the apostles were baptized “with the Holy Spirit.” But Scripture does not record that they were baptized “with fire.”

At the Jordan River, John awaited those who came for baptism. Some he rejected, saying, “generation of vipers,” and so on. But those who confessed their faults and sins he received. In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ will stand in the river of fire near the “flaming sword.” If anyone desires to pass over to paradise after departing this life and needs cleansing, Christ will baptize him in this river and send him across to the place he longs for. But whoever does not have the sign of earlier baptisms, him Christ will not baptize in the fiery bath. For it is fitting that one should be baptized in “water and the Spirit.” Then, when he comes to the fiery river, he can show that he preserved the bathing in water and the Spirit. Then he will deserve to receive in addition the baptism in Christ Jesus, to whom be glory and power for ages of ages. Amen.” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 24.)

O God,
perfect light of the blessed,
by whose gift
we celebrate the paschal mysteries on earth,
bring us, we pray,
to rejoice in the full measure of your grace
for ages unending.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen