As Christmas now ends, we take a moment to reflect on how Christmas brings us to the crib of Jesus. We are claimed for Christ and His Kingdom at baptism. The vast majority of Christians, including almost all Catholics, are baptized when they are infants, and this is most fitting. The sacraments are instruments of God’s grace, and even newborn babies need the grace of God. Moreover, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism,” and for this reason: “The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church.” (CCC 1250, 1252). But along with the indisputable benefits of baptizing infants comes a special danger: those who are baptized before the beginning of memory will have no recollection or understanding of the most important day in their lives. Unless they receive the Gospel with saving faith and the meaning of their Baptism is explained to them as they grow, then they will not know that they have been born again of water and the Holy Spirit and have been made children of God, members of Christ and heirs of the Kingdom.
So, as John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, parents and godparents are reminded at each baptism: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” And, the parents respond in this faith: “We do.” In other words, as Jesus begins His ministry at His baptism…the parents (and godparents) begin their ministry in perpetuating the faith until He comes again.