Why Do Catholics…Part 14 – Baptize Babies

This week in my religious education class, we were teaching the 5th graders about the sacraments.  One of the most familiar sacraments for all of the students, besides Eucharist which they receive in church each Sunday, was baptism.  In fact, nearly all of them had been to at least one baptism that they could remember!  I thought this was such a beautiful example of our faith community as they could all relate to welcoming a new member into the Church.

But why do we baptize babies while some other denominations wait until the person is much older?  Is there a Biblical basis to it?  The answer is yes! baby baptism

For starters, the Jewish faith of Jesus required that his parents present him in the temple at only eight days old, for their circumcision and consecration to God.  We can see this early form of bringing children to God throughout the Old Testament.  Also, Jesus admonished his disciples when they prevented children from seeing him, saying “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

In the sacrament of baptism, the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is wiped off our souls to welcome us into our faith family.  Because we in no way can earn Christ’s salvation, this is never more evident when a baby is claimed for Christ.  There is nothing that baby could do to  make them worthy of the saving grace of God – it is given to us freely, regardless of our own efforts.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter commands that all should be baptized, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, for the promise is made to you and to your children.”  (Acts 2:38-39)  He is offering that salvation to little ones before they can truly understand it, perhaps because the grace can work richly in those yet so innocent.  Elsewhere in Acts (16:15, 16:33), situations are described where entire households were baptized – households which most likely included children.

To explain this to our children, we can simply say that God loves us all so much from the beginning of our lives that he wants us to be in His faith family right away.  So through the baptism of an infant, we make a promise to raise that baby to be a child of God through the sacrament of baptism and He washes away all sins to bring us all closer to Him!

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