Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Christopher’s Church, Tiverton RI Baptism of Emma Concetta Cincotta
August 25, 2002 Ezekiel 36; Mt 28:16-20
What’s happening here today is much more than a nice ceremony. It is and always will be the most important day in Emma’s life.
A. A real change is going to happen. She’s about to enter into Jesus Christ:
1) She dies to sin in Him
2) She rises to new life — his own!
3) She becomes truly a child of God.
B. To enter into God’s own life, baptism is necessary, because of original sin, what happened with Adam and Eve.
1) Adam and Eve were born rich in relationship with God. When they sinned, we all lost, in a sense, our inheritance. This is similar to what would happen if we were the children billionaires who had lost their fortune. Their loss of that wealth also means that we are born outside of it.
2) So all of us are born outside of the gifts of grace God had given to Adam and Eve that they lost through sin (and that we lose everything we sin).
3) Jesus came to restore that inheritance. And he did it through the sacraments, beginning with baptism. Without the effects of baptism, we cannot enter heaven. That’s why we baptize babies, because of what we know of baptism. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, Jesus says.
4) But Jesus exceeded what he had given Adam and Eve as well, by restoring us to a deeper relationship to God than Adam and Eve ever had.
4) Emma receives becomes an heir to all of that today. She enters into Christ and through him becomes an heir of the greatest treasure ever, this relationship of love with God.
C. The symbols used in a baptism can help us to understand a little bit of what happens in a baptism, but also what the mission is that Emma is receiving today. This incredible gift she receives is also a task.
1) The white garment — After baptism she’ll be covered with a white garment and told to see in that garment the outward sign of her Christian dignity.
a) The sparkling white dress is a symbol of how clean and radiant her insides will be through baptism. She’s told to take that white garment unstained to meet Christ when he comes again.
b) Her job is to keep it clean from the stain of sin, through living the life of Jesus and whenever she does sin, to take it to him to clean through the sacrament of reconciliation to which this sacrament leads.
c) It’s also evocative of another white garment with which she’ll be covered one day, when her body comes into Church for the last time — the funeral pall. Because of this day, that day doesn’t have to be sad, but a passing into a deeper life with the Lord, a life that begins today and is meant to be perfected in heaven.
2) The baptismal candle — The godfather will come to light her baptismal candle from the paschal or Easter candle, the symbol of the triumph of Christ over death, of the light of Christ over the darkness of sin.
a) Emma is called to burn with that light of Christ.
b) To let it shine for all the world to see.
c) Not to let it be covered anything.
d) To light others on fire with that same light of Christ, as happens at the Easter Vigil.
D. Since this day is so important, and since she is so little, we have to do what we can to help her remember this day and live in accordance with it, to live as an heir of God, a loving child of God.
1) Symbols for memory
a) Light this baptismal candle with her on the day of her baptism, so that she can remember it.
b) Renew baptismal promises.
c) Save some of the holy water and use it on that day to renew the promises.
d) Save and show the baptismal garment and photos and videos.
2) Help them to live it by our example
a) Parents — Later on you’ll be promising to make it your first duty to raise her in the faith, more important than college, more than housing and even food. First duty. Every child needs to breast feed during these early days from the faith of parents. Be generous in teaching her how to pray and to hunger for the things of God.
b) Godparents — Your mission, a great responsibility, is to help raise her in the faith. That means setting a good example for her. Celebrating the faith with her, especially the anniversary of her baptism. To get on the parents’ case if they ever start to wander. To inspire the child to want to become just like you in your knowledge and love of God.
c) All of us — Today, in our culture, Emma will need more than 2 Godparents to help raise her in the faith. She’ll need all of us.
E. In just a moment, Emma’s parents and Godparents will pronounce for her her baptismal promises.
1) This is a good opportunity for us to reflect on how we’re living out our own baptismal promises.
2) Are we professing by our words and by our actions that we:
a) Believe in God
b) Reject sin
c) Are keeping our white garments clean
d) Lighting up other’s lives with the love of Christ
F. God wants to use this great sacrament for her, which is the most important day of her life, no matter how long she lives, to also be a means to get us to appreciate and live according to our own baptism.
G. This way one day, decades from now, we might all rejoice in heaven with God who loved Emma enough to die for her and who now out of love incorporates her into Himself.