Well, back in 1936, Dale Carnegie was the author of a best-selling book called "How to Win Friends and Influence People." If there was a version of that idea back in the time of John the Baptist, It didn’t sound like John ever heard of it. According to our gospel, his special way of influencing people was to call them "snakes," part of a brood of "vipers"!
So what made people put up with those descriptions and forms of verbal abuse? Or, was it really abuse, or was John simply telling the truth? Why were people continuing to be drawn to John the Baptist, making that long, hot desert trip down to the Jordan where John could be found? The answer is simple. It was because they knew in their hearts that John was right in his accusations. They were sinners who had bought into the lies of that first serpent in the garden. So they came to confess their sins and to be baptised by John, a baptism of repentance
But John also tells them about an advent, a "coming." Someone who is coming after him who will be "more powerful," and will baptise them with "the Holy Spirit and fire." So he warns them to repent, and to "produce the appropriate fruit worthy of repentance." The image of fire reminds us that we are purified and made holy by our baptism. The difference between John's baptism and that of Christian baptism is that we receive the Holy Spirit and God’s Life is within us. That is what empowers us to bear appropriate fruit; to really change and live the life of Christ.
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM!
Article (CCC 523) reminds us that St. John the Baptist is the immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare the way for Christ . John bears witness to Christ in his preaching; by his Baptism of conversion; and through his martyrdom. When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient hope of the coming Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming- see also Article CCC 524
- “CCC” stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc2.htm.