The Sacraments: Fulfilment of the Law


Baptism is the sacrament that initiates us into the Christian community. In this sacrament, we renounce Satan and we proclaim our allegiance to God. This is also the first time that we proclaim publicly our faith by reciting the Apostles' Creed. The New Testament mentions two kinds of baptism: baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus. The first one is a baptism with water and the second one is a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John's baptism was a symbolic baptism that reminded the person of his sinfulness and need for repentance. It is an immersion in water. The baptism of Jesus is likewise an immersion in water. But it is more than just an immersion in water. It is an immersion in the Holy Spirit.

With baptism, we are accepted into the Christian community. As such, we are marked with the seal of those in the community - the Holy Spirit. This mark is a deposit guaranteeing the things to come

Non-Catholics have often questioned our practice of baptising a infant. The argument has always been that infant baptism is not valid because the decision to commit one's life to the Lord was not made by the infant. Personally, I find this argument interesting. I cannot argue that our faith is based on a personal commitment to the Lord. But to say that the baptism one received as a child is invalid because one did not make the decision needs to be addressed.

In the Old Testament, God told Abram to circumcise every male child eight days after his birth. This will be the physical proof that the child is a son of God's covenant with Abraham. Abraham obeyed God and circumcised his son Ishmael and when Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised Isaac on the eighth day. And when a man wants to convert to Judaism, he has to undergo circumcision as part of the conversion process.

I see infant baptism as having its roots on this Jewish practice. In the rite of circumcision, the child is marked to prove that he is a son of Abraham. This is done without the child's consent. Once marked, the child is expected to obey the Law and worship the God of his fathers.

I see the Catholic practice of infant baptism as similar to the Jewish rite of circumcision. When we baptise an infant, we are in effect, marking the child as a child of God. The mark is spiritual but more powerful than the physical sign of circumcision because the mark is a seal from the Father as a deposit guaranteeing us of the things to come. With this seal, the child is also expected to obey God's law as taught by his Lord and to worship his God and Lord.

For me, there is nothing wrong with infant baptism. With it, the child is baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. With it, the child is marked with the Holy Spirit and with it, the child is also entitled to all the inheritance that his Father in heaven shall give through Jesus his Lord.

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