Lagura: A tale of 2 baptisms-A A +A
In the service of the Word
Saturday, January 12, 2013
AS soon as his first child opened his beautiful eyes and smiled, Alex immediately started to prepare for its baptism. And it would be grand, for the couple had waited for several years and prayed hard for God- to bless their marriage with a baby. The lovely, cool but sunny day lent itself to a wonderful baptismal ceremony inside the town church presided by no other than the boy’s great uncle.
In stark contrast Joe wanted to wait until his daughter would be “old enough” to decide for herself that she would be christened. Years, many years at that passed, and the daughter, now in her 40s, no longer wishes to be baptized. What for, she would insolently ask.
The Lord’s own baptism is a beautiful example for us to think about and follow. Since he was totally sinless baptism was not an absolute necessity towards forgiveness of sins. Yet, Jesus humbly went to John the Baptist to ask for the waters of baptism. The moment John poured water on Jesus, heavens were opened and a voice was heard, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The waters of baptism were cleansed by the Lord himself, and--more importantly--a voice of divine affirmation coming from the Father himself declared once and for all who the Lord Jesus really is.
True, a newly born child is innocent of sin, that is of a sin he or she personally committed. However, the child is born into a world, which, though beautiful and created good by God, has been tainted and nearly ruined by sin, specifically original sin. Just think of the crimes, the injustices, the violent killing of innocent including babies in the wombs of their mothers, and other abominations committed by a human being against a fellow human being that continue to plague our world.
On account of this jarring and shameful sinfulness in our otherwise good and lovely world, God gave us the sacrament to free us from that fundamental original sin. Baptism also places us in the right track towards our real goal: eternal salvation and bliss in heaven.
For this purpose, after the sponsors and parents have made the profession of faith on behalf of the child, the child, given a special name, is washed clean with water. Besides its cleansing effect, water gives life. Then with the words or the sacred formula of baptism, the Holy Trinity--Father, Son and Holy Spirit--dwell in the child making the child a son/daughter in whom God is truly well pleased.
Next, the child is anointed with sacred oil to signify that together with Christ, the child will partake of the three-fold calling of being king, prophet and priest. Then, a white cloth is draped over the child to remind the parents and godparents of the purity of soul given through baptism. It is a purity that has to be guarded until the day we meet the Lord.
Finally, a lighted candle is handed over to remind one and all that Christ is the light of the world; we are to meet him with the light of our life and faith alive.
To this day Joe bemoans his decision to delay his daughter’s christening. He worries about the words of the Lord: “Unless a man is born again [from above] of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”(John 3:5b)
In contrast, on the day his child was baptized, Alex held a big celebration to thank God for the precious gift of life. He also took joy and pride in the son in whom he was truly pleased.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 13, 2013.