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Infant Baptism

Why do we baptize infants?

Let's create a scenario whereby a young couple, John and Terry, bring in their 8 week old son, Joseph, to be baptized.  The Parish agrees to the baptism and the priest gives the following homily (sermon) during the baptism.


Outline:
 

Why is Jesus baptized.  We have heard this story of John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus ever since we were kids.  Why is Jesus Baptized?  There is all sorts of debate among scholars about that question.  I think the answer is pretty simple: People ask me all the time why The Son of God had to be Baptized.  Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, to purify it at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of the future, the people of all ages.   Furthermore, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist because Jesus asks him to do it.  Jesus as a man of faith asks John to baptize him, and John does it.

Today we baptize because a person or persons of faith ask us to do it, so we do it.   Obviously, little Joseph here did not tell me that he wanted to be baptized, and if I were to ask him I probably would not be able to understand his response.   Jesus was a man of faith, and he asked to be baptized.   Joseph did not asked to be baptized, but is he a man of faith?  Does he trust in God?   I would suggest that about the only thing Joseph trusts in at this point is that Mommy and Daddy are there for him when he is hungry or afraid.   So what are we doing here.?   Why are we baptizing little Joe?

We are baptizing little Joe because his parents are people of faith, and because they have asked us to.   Whoa!  Wait a minute!  How can we offer the saving Grace of Baptism to a baby ( a very cute baby, but still a baby) just because his parents are people of faith and they ask us to do it?   Well, again., Jesus gives us the answer.   In the Bible, in the gospels, we read several times how Jesus saves an innocent child based upon the faith of a parent.

 

Perhaps the story most Catholics are familiar with is the one where the Roman centurion asks Jesus to save his boy from death.   We are most familiar with that story because we repeat the words of the centurion at each Eucharistic Liturgy.   "O Lord I am not worthy to receive you under my roof, but only say the word and my boy will be healed."   Jesus tells the centurion "because of your faith, your boy lives."   Notice Jesus does not say your boy will live or your boy is going to live.   He says "because of your faith your boy lives. Terry and John, because of your faith, your boy lives!  Your boy lives in the saving power of Jesus Christ, son of God.   Your son, Joseph is an awesome example of the saving power of Jesus. Your faith allows this to happen.   Your faith also places a large responsibility upon you to bring Joseph up in the faith and teach him to trust in God. We know you trust in God. We know Joseph trusts in you, and you are responsible for passing faith in God onto Joseph.