One Sunday, I had only one candidate for baptism after Mass. The family arrived well before the Mass ended and took up positions in the front pews ready for the baptism of their lovely baby. Since I had the afternoon Mass, I dressed up appropriately in the sacristy and proceeded to the altar to start the initiation of this lovely baby into the Christian faith. The baby was dressed all in white, but he was busy having his lunch from a small feeding bottle and his face beamed with angelic smiles. I was later told that his father flew in from Germany to attend his son’s baptism.
An older child was beside them wondering “who’s this baby that has taken my position as the number one in the family.” I guess the father of this baby is in the military because I could see his haircut was neat and his body looked fit like a fiddle. The mother was there with her dress looking elegant yet happy as every woman would. Beside her were three people: a couple as baptism sponsors of the baby and one lady as witness. Another twenty people were seated sparsely in the front seats watching the event unfold for this baby. I surveyed the whole crowd with my eyes. I said to myself, “Babies always attract crowds to their baptism.”
Everything about the baptism went smoothly. When it was time to do the rite of infusion with water, the baby did not cry. He just giggled and smiled as the parents watched me baptize him. Immediately after the baptism over the font, his mother grabbed a towel and cleaned his face and returned him to his lunch routine. When it was time to enrobe him with the white garment, he allowed me to encircle his neck with the little garment. Of course, I used oils to anoint him at two occasions. We had pictures and the family even handed me a ‘Thank You’ card for ministering at the ceremony. Good gesture!
The scenario I tried to paint is known to many of you from the baptism of your babies. Why do we have to bring our babies to the Church at the baptismal font to be soaked with water? Well, baptism is a sacrament of the Church that allows us to receive new members into the Church.
More than that, it allows us to receive all other sacraments of the Church. Baptism then is the gateway to the other six sacraments.
Today is the baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, a voice cried out, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Why do we have to listen to Jesus? There must be something special about him. Jesus did not need baptism, but he did it to show us the way. He allowed himself to be baptized by John the Baptist. Every believer in Jesus must enter the waters of baptism as a means of purifying the body and the soul of what is described in Catholic theology as original sin. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it describes “original sin” as ‘the “reverse side” of the Good news that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ”’ (Can. #389).
From birth, we inherit the stain of the sin of our first parents, Adam, and Eve. The way God reinstates us back to himself is to infuse us with his grace at baptism. He does this so that we may pursue our salvation devoid of any rebellion. The “fall of man” needed another man to restore the lost graces for our eternal reward. And Jesus is that Man.
For the past years of priestly ministry, when I have baptized infants or adults into the Christian faith, the feeling is always that of self-fulfillment. It is incredible to see how these infants cry when the water touches their foreheads, or when they see a strange person coming closer to invade their little world. The adults are always calm, but the feeling is always a happy one.
The importance of baptism is meant to show us the love of God which never ends. You need to indulge in a life of purity, good works, and the practice of the Christian faith to warrant salvation. It is true that Jesus has paid the price for our eternal salvation, but even so, we need to work according to our baptismal promises by rejecting Satan and all his empty promises to live according to God’s commandments. The joy of baptizing candidates into the Christian faith is heavenly. It is true that the sacrament has outward signs of inward grace that only the eyes of faith can detect. Do you live your baptismal promises?
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