Baptism: the significance of the sacrament

by Marlon De La Torre

North Texas Catholic

4/24/2020

A unique characteristic attributed to God that tends to be overshadowed is His gift of proposals. Often, we identify God as only directing, commanding, chastising, or forgiving someone. As the principle author of all life, He provides His own children (us) with the opportunity to believe in Him or not, in other words, a proposal to believe in a divine being. 

When you take this concept and associate it with His Son Jesus Christ’s first sacramental act (Baptism), we can see that God’s consummate proposals to obey, love, and serve Him take on a greater significance and meaning through Jesus, the Word made flesh. Why? Because in the Incarnate Word, Jesus fulfills God’s divine proposal by way of Christ’s Baptism as the entrance into God’s kingdom of heaven (Mt 28:17-20; Jn 3:5-7; Acts 2:37-42). Christ provides distinctive matter and form to God’s divine proposal through the initiation of this sacrament of Baptism.

In Baptism, Christ fulfills the law of God with respect to the coming of the Messiah who would release the people of God from the wages of sin. Christ instituted the sacrament of Baptism as the new divine way of entering God’s kingdom and thus releasing us from the pain of sin while still retaining the inclination to sin (concupiscence). The sacrament of Baptism provides an opportunity for an infant child (at a parent’s request), or for an adult, to publicly make a profession of faith before God to humbly seek His kingdom. This begins a journey of faith that will hopefully bring us one day to see God our Father face to face.  

Jesus being baptizedJesus being baptized


What is the significance of Baptism?

The sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ (Matt 28:17-20; Jn 3:5-7; Acts 2:37-42) serves as the first sacrament of initiation and allows the person who genuinely and honestly desires to live a life centered on Jesus Christ to enter His kingdom.

Christ instituted the sacrament of Baptism as the new divine way of entering God’s kingdom, replacing the previously held Jewish custom of initiation by way of circumcision. The sacrament of Baptism takes away original sin even though after Baptism we still possess an inclination to sin (concupiscence). The first sacrament of initiation officially enters us into the kingdom, and the reception of Baptism signifies a baptism into the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Why do we baptize infants? 

When Christ called out to the faithful to seek the kingdom of God after His Baptism, he spoke not just to individuals, he spoke to families, initiating a “first parental catechesis” on the significance of Baptism and the necessity to be baptized in order to enter the kingdom of God, which also includes children. We see a clear example of this in Acts 2:37-42, where all were baptized in order to hand on the message of Christ. 

Why not wait until the child will remember it?

The sacrament of Baptism, as with all the sacraments, is centered on Christ, who is the author of the sacramental life, and in association with this gift is the immediate grace one receives to more faithfully and humbly worship the one true God. 

Why did Jesus get baptized?

To specifically fulfill the law of God as proclaimed by the prophets of the One who is to come to save humanity from their sinful ways. In order to do this, Christ introduced a clear, simple, and holy way for all who desire to enter the kingdom of God to do so by way of immersion with water that signifies and represents the cleansing of God’s children; e.g., Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Rock of Horeb. 

Jesus was baptized to open the gates of heaven to all of God’s children who had rejected the promises of God and spurned God for the worship of false idols. The sacrament of Baptism and its matter and form bring a proper worship back to God. 

Do we recognize the Baptisms of other denominations?

Yes, as long as the Baptism is administered with the baptismal formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and water is used for Baptism.

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Marlon De La Torre, is the Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Fort Worth and writes articles on catechesis, evangelization, and Christian spirtuality at KnowingIsDoing.org.

Jesus being baptized

A unique characteristic attributed to God that tends to be overshadowed is His gift of proposals.

Published (until 4/24/2037)