“One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One
God, and Father of all.”
God works in mysterious ways. It is
an interesting coincidence that today we will be baptizing three young
children at Saint Anthony’s Mission, and the Church gives us these words
written by Saint Paul to the people of Ephesus: “One Lord, one faith, one
baptism.” Saint Paul’s words answer three important questions: Why are we
baptizing? What is the essence of Baptism? and What are the effects of
Baptism on Its recipients.
“One Lord .... One God and Father of
all” speaks to the fact that there is but one God, who has created
everything out of nothing. Everything we have, indeed, everything we are,
we owe to Almighty God. But this God is more than just an impersonal
force. He is a Person, who loves what He created, and would like to be
loved in return. He sent His divine Son, Jesus Christ, to announce the good
news that by conforming our wills to His will, we have the power of becoming
His adopted sons and daughters.
Through Holy Baptism we accept His
offer of adoption. We become children of God, the adopted brothers and
sisters of His Son, Jesus Christ.
One faith. Through Moses, through
the prophets of the Old Testament, and finally through Jesus Christ, God has
revealed what He wants us to know about Him and how He wants us to behave
toward Him and toward the people around us. Faith is belief in God’s
revelation, simply because God has revealed it. It is absolutely necessary
for salvation, because to reject what God has revealed is to reject God and
to reject adoption as His children. Our Lord told us: “He that believes
and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be
Where do we get this Faith? The
second question asked in the ceremony of Baptism is “what do you ask of the
Church of God?”
The God-parents reply for the child, “Faith,” for the Church is the guardian
of this revelation which we believe by Faith.
For most of us, Faith comes to us
because out parents have brought us to be baptized. The Sacrament of
Baptism predisposes the mind of the child to be able to accept the truths of
the Faith. But still those truths must come from somewhere. The parents
will be the first educators of their own children—the God-parents may be
called upon to help out if the parents become unable. Hopefully the parents
and God-parents will make use of the resources of the Church to carry out
this responsibility. The sermons at Holy Mass, and the instruction of the
Catechism are the primary and indispensable means of the Church to help with
the children’s education, but there is much more available.
We must acknowledge that the
Catholic Faith is more than just what can be learned by listening or
reading. The Faith must be practiced in our daily lives. Children
learn the practices of the Faith largely by imitation of their parents. The
Catholic home should be a place of family prayer. Penitential practices
like Friday abstinence and the observance of Lent, learned in the home, will
become lifetime habits. Modesty in dress, honesty and purity of speech,
neighborly charity and peace, respect for authority, a sense of
responsibility, the desire to work together for common goals, all come most
immediately from a good home life.
There is, as Saint Paul wrote, “One
Faith.” But this one Faith is articulated so many practical ways.
Finally, the last of our three
questions: “What is the essence of Baptism?” The answer is identical to the
answer to the third question in the baptismal rite: “What does faith offer
you?” And the answer is “Eternal life.” Baptism restores us to the state
of original innocence that was possessed by Adam and Eve before the fall.
Sanctifying grace makes the baptized person radically holy—we may even dare
to say that it allows us, in some small way, to participate in God’s
divinity. If that seems too boastful, remember that it makes us the adopted
children of God, who is pleased to share His greatest treasures with His
sons and daughters. Those who preserve the graces of Baptism will share
them with Him forever, without end.
Baptism makes us members of the
Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ. The theologians tell us that
Baptism imprints an inerasable character on the soul, a sort of “mark” or
“brand” that identifies us from the moment, forward in all eternity, as
God’s children and members of His Church. That mark will be the occasion of
eternal glory in heaven, but would be a terrible shame if we were to fail to
keep the Faith and find ourselves in hell.
God works in mysterious ways. After
asking the three question before Baptism, the priest tells the child, his
parents, and his God-parents the very same thing we heard in the Gospel of
If, then, you wish to enter into life, keep the
commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole
heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and thy
neighbor as thyself.”