It was a special celebration last weekend – the welcoming of the newest family member to the Christian life. Gabriel was baptized amidst the presence of his loving parents, his godparents, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins, and friends. We, who were not there in person during the ceremony, welcomed him with our prayers.
After the baptism of my two kids years ago, it’s a welcoming event to look forward to. It’s really a privilege to be part of this initiation rite to Christianity. Jesus has set an example to all of us when He himself was baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. And He has given this mission to His apostles :
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20).
So was it then; so it is now.
I have witnessed recent baptisms in the Church. It’s usually during a special Holy Day like Easter Sunday or Christmas Day that a group baptism is held. Last Christmas, I had the privilege of witnessing four babies baptized before the start of the holy mass. There was this big basin of water in the centre of the altar and a large Easter candle on the side. One by one the babies were called with their parents and godparents. It was so funny when the babies were immersed naked in the basin of baptismal water. The other baptism I witnessed was during Mother’s Day sunday mass. This time it was a baptism of two ten-year old twin boys. They were too big to be immersed in the basin of water, so the godparents just held them up high enough with the head towards the basin so that the priest could pour water on the head. Two years ago a dear friend of mine received his baptism as an adult when he embraced Christianity for the first time. After that he and his fiancee got married in Church.
Oftentimes we take the ceremony as a matter of fact without even pondering on the symbol of the materials used in the ceremony:
- Baptismal water – the consecrated water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. From the Holy Spirit flows all the blessings of Jesus who was crucified. It symbolizes death to sin and rising up to a new life through Jesus. The baptized is now part of the body of Christ.
- Anointing of sacred oil – the Sacred oil of Chrism is a perfumed oil that is consecrated by the Bishop. With the oil, the priest asks God to bless the believer with all the necessary graces to achieve a Christian life. The word “Christian” comes from the word “Christ”which means the Annointed One.
- The putting of the white garment symbolizes the putting on Christ. This is the outward sign of the person’s Christian dignity.
- Candle – the lighting of candle through the Easter candle symbolizes receiving the light of Christ. The flame of faith will be kept alive at all times. The parents and godparents are entrusted to guide the baptized through the Light of Christ – keeping the flame of faith alive.
We welcome Gabriel to the Christian life. Someday when he’s older he will confirm his faith through the Sacrament of Confirmation; just like his cousin Josef who recently confirmed his faith – the latest family member to do so.