Why We Baptize Infants
One of the difficulties of seeing the need for
infant Baptism is that we live in the Entitlement Generation. People
assume that they deserve all the goods they desire just by being born.
Just a few years ago people with very
limited financial resources were knowingly awarded Liar Loans to
buy $200,000 - $300,000 homes. The real estate agents, who had
nothing to lose and high commissions to gain and collect,
assured everyone that prices only go up, and so the collateral
was in the bank so to speak. When reality set in it led to the
collapse of our economy and this greatly affected the banking
and real estate industries. Many people lost their jobs. And
many lost their homes through foreclosure.
Babies do not deserve heaven just by being
conceived. No one does. Even a sinless person does not deserve heaven.
We are not entitled to heaven. It is a gift that we can only be made to
merit by receiving the grace that Jesus won for us on the cross.
Another reason people often fail to see the need
for infant Baptism is because they fail to recognize the reality of
Sin. There are two kingdoms or two domains.
“Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be
Writing to Christians John says, “We know that we
are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”
1 John 5:19
Baptism is necessary to bring an individual into
God’s Kingdom. The Rite of Baptism includes an exorcism ritual,
even when babies are baptized. They are set free from Satan’s dominion
by Baptism. Because of the immaturity of those in our present culture
who tend to exaggerate the importance of emotional perceptions, this
fact is often downplayed. This in turn has had an adverse effect on
Baptism saves us from being exiled from God by
moving us spiritually from Satan’s domain into God’s domain, His
Kingdom, that is into His Family, His Church, the Catholic –Universal -
Church He founded on Saint Peter.
God’s Kingdom is at least partially made present
here on earth in His Church. Scott Hahn, Ph.D. explains it this way.
“The Three Theological Dimensions of the
Kingdom of God
First … Jesus is the Incarnation of God’s
Kingdom … Christ is the pearl and the treasure, which one will give
everything to possess. …
Second … the Kingdom is understood as being
present in the heart …
Third … the Kingdom is the Church … the
mystical body of Christ … within whom Christ the King dwells …
... Kingdom parables of Matt. 13. The Kingdom
is compared to a field planted with both weeds and wheat … a net
that catches fish both good and bad … the Kingdom is a present,
although mixed, reality …
Jesus says, “unless one is born of water and
the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5)
… the Church in its essence is a heavenly
reality. The Church in heaven, the Church Triumphant, is the
fullest realization of the Kingdom …
however, it would be a mistake to deny that
the Church Militant [ on earth ] manifests the Kingdom and indeed
truly is part of the Kingdom, even if imperfectly so.
The dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium states
the relationship carefully and beautifully: “To carry out the will
of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and
revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom … The Church, or, in
other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows
visibly through the power of God in the world” (LG § 3). “The
Church … receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all
peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the
initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the
Church strains toward the completed kingdom and, with all its
strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King (LG
(Catholic Bible Dictionary, Dr. Scott Hahn, Editor, pages 511-512)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
865 The Church
is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her
deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,” already
exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom
has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the
hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological
526 To become a
child in relation to God is the condition for entering the
kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even
more: to become “children of God” we must be
“born from above” or “born of God.” Only when Christ is
formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.
Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
1215 This sacrament is also called “the
washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it
signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the
Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.”
1257 The Lord himself affirms that
Baptism is necessary for salvation.
He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations
and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to
whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility
of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any
means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude;
this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has
received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are
“reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the
sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all
men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion …
From then on, it is possible “to be born of
water and the Spirit” in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
See where you are baptized, see where Baptism
comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There
is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in
him you are saved.