The Holy Spirit—he makes all the difference. John had preached a baptism of repentance for sins, but he promised that someone “mightier” was coming—someone who would fill us with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7). So what is that difference? John’s baptism focused on the past, on forgiveness for sins already committed. He wanted people to put the past behind them. The Holy Spirit, however, focuses on the future. He comes to mould us and shape us, to lead us into the kingdom of heaven. John’s baptism was for one purpose: for our pardon. But the Holy Spirit has many purposes. He reveals God’s love to us. He helps us understand Scripture. He teaches us how to live as brothers and sisters. He holds the Church together and moves us to work for the kingdom of God. And so much more.
When we are baptized into Christ, we get both blessings. Our sins are washed away, and we receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn’t want us to miss out on anything! It’s all wrapped up in one gift, which we call the “seed of faith.” If we want to see these blessings unfold in our lives, we need to tend to and nurture this seed. A simple analogy might help. The main reason most of us go on a healthy diet is to lose weight, but so much more happens when we change our eating habits. Our cholesterol levels also improve. Our immune system is strengthened. We feel more energetic, and we sleep better. We just wanted to lose weight, but our whole lives have been changed. This is what happens when we care for our seed of faith. Not only do we experience God’s forgiveness, but we invite the Holy Spirit to work in every other area of our lives. We feel God’s love. We become more loving. We want to reach out to those who are hurting. In short, we become a new creation.