Baptism – What’s In It For Me
Most “cradle Catholics” were Baptized as infants. We did not ask to be Baptized, so what happened? What was in it for me?
First, understand that we received the same gift as those who were Baptized later in life. We were washed; we were reborn; and we were anointed.
Baptism washes away the stain of original sin and, those baptized after the age of reason are cleansed of any actual sins, and of all punishment due to sin.
We were reborn. That was indeed good news, for, as Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.” (JN 3:5)
We were anointed with sacred chrism. Our anointing signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we were incorporated into Christ, and so we now share in the Church’s mission of healing and service.
Baptism – Where Is That In The Bible?
First we will look at the how Baptism is prefigured in the Old Testament.
In Ezekiel (36: 21-27), God tells the prophet that He will sprinkle water upon the Israelites and cleanse them of impurities, and “I will put my spirit within” them.
Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism. We read in 1 PET 3: 20-21: “At that time, a few persons, eight in all, escaped in the ark through the water. You are now saved by a baptismal bath which corresponds to this exactly.”
The crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation from sin wrought by Baptism.
Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which the People of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham’s descendants, an image of eternal life.
Baptism – Where Is That In The New Testament?
This entire Bulletin does not have enough space to share all the verses that refer to Baptism in the New Testament! This space will highlight a few.
First, note that Jesus began His public ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his ‘beloved Son.’ ”
In Mark 28: 19, Jesus tells the Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
On Pentecost, when Peter tells those who want to know what they must do to be saved, Peter responds, “You must reform and be baptized.” (ACTS 2: 37-38)
What is the first thing done after Saul’s sight is restored following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus? “He got up and was baptized.” (ACTS 9: 17-19) And many more…
Baptism – A Symbol Or A Necessity?
Non Catholics generally assert that Baptism is not necessary for salvation – it is symbolic only. So where does the Catholic Church get that idea that Baptism is necessary for salvation? The simple answer is – from Jesus!
After Nicodemus asks Jesus if a man can be born over again, Jesus responds, “I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.” (JN 3:5) As we read in Week 1, that is exactly what happens in the Sacrament of Baptism.
In Mark 16: 15-16, Jesus gives the Apostles their mission: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation. The Man who believes in it and accepts baptism will be saved; the man who refuses to believe in it will be condemned.” Verse 16 clearly states that faith alone is not sufficient for salvation; one must also be baptized. Note that the verses also make it clear that being baptized does not assure salvation. One must also believe and show that faith by doing the will of the Father.