Isaiah 40:3, 5, 9-11
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD . . . .
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”
The Baptism of our Lord by St. John the Baptist was one of several instances in the Old and New Testaments — see also Genesis 1:26, John 5:7, and Matthew 28 — when the nature of the Triune Godhead is revealed as the vexing mystery of three Persons in one God.
But the above narrative in Luke 3 also speaks to the importance that Jesus holds for the sacrament of Baptism. Even the Son of God was Baptized, intended for sinners, before He began His public ministry.
These are the words on Baptism of His Apostle, St. Paul:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:3-4
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1 Corinthians 6:11
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” -Galatians 3:27
Baptism purifies and sanctifies (makes holy) the person, making him/her a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. That means that without Baptism, a person is without the Holy Spirit and rendered defenseless against the Evil One.
I don’t know what other Christian denominations believe about baptism, but in the Catholic Church — for all its many flaws, including the terrible sins committed by its clergy — the sacrament of Baptism is an act of exorcism:
Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. (#1237 of Catechism of the Catholic Church)
In this manner, through the exorcizing sacrament of Baptism, “all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.”
Moreover, through Baptimism we receive the gift of grace from the Holy Trinity — to believe in God, to love Him, and to grow in goodness. “Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.”
I was baptized when I was four, but fell away from God and from the Church when I entered college, naïvely believing in a charismatic professor named Mitchell Bedford who said the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls had proved Christianity was a myth. What terrible and evil deeds college professors can do.
An agnostic, I wandered in the wilderness for decades until I was born again. This August 9 will be the 17th anniversary of my coming home. On that day in 2002, choking with tears streaming down my face, I made my big Confession for all my sins and He forgave me. I truly believe that, had I not been baptized all those many years ago and given the shield of protection, I would have been lost forever.
So if you are a Christian, don’t make the mistake of postponing the baptism of your child(ren). Baptism — clothing your child “with Christ” — is the most important thing you can and will ever do for your child.
Jesus, I love You with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.
And may the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
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