Third Sunday of Easter
Fr. Anthony Brankin
I always wondered why we have Baptisms on Holy Saturday night. This year we had four, other years we have had up to fifteen and maybe thirty Confirmations and First Communions. But what is the connection between the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday and the Sacrament of Baptism?
It goes back a long time in the history of the Church and it became the traditional day when new Christians were brought into the Church. But of course. The first preaching was about this Jesus who was crucified to save us from our sins, how He rose from the dead and lives, and gloriously so, and we must believe in Him and be baptized.
Baptism takes away our sins: Original, mortal and venial. It washes us in His life. Baptism drowns the old life and glorifies us in the new life. If we wish to belong to Christ, if we want to be part of His Mystical Body, if we yearn to be saved, we must be baptized. Baptism is the sign that does what it signifies—it actually pours God and Grace into our souls at the very moment that the water itself is
The necessity of Baptism
The first step on the way to salvation is Baptism. In fact, Baptism is necessary for salvation. That’s all I know. What happens to those who are not baptized? Jew? Muslims? Pagans? I don’t know, that’s up to God. All I know is that Jesus said, “Unless you are baptized of water and the Spirit—you shall not enter into the Kingdom of God.” It is not enough to say “Oh how much I love Jesus.” It is not enough only to say “Oh I live a good enough life, I do not need more.” It is not enough to say “Oh Jesus is my personal Lord and Saviour.” Mary told us at Cana “Do whatever He tells you.” And
He told us to be baptized.
And so we obey Our Blessed Lord, first by being baptized and then by means of participating in the other sacraments, which Jesus has given us. If we ignore Baptism then we will ignore the other sacraments. Our faith and love will eventually weaken and fail. Our lives will falter and collapse; and we will not be able to get to Heaven. It is that simple.
So, receiving the sacraments is therefore what Jesus desires—and commands. And first among those sacraments is Baptism, (as Jesus says) “of water and the Spirit”. When Jesus refers to the Baptism of “water and the Spirit” he includes the Holy Spirit because Baptism, as St. John the Baptist and others performed it, was simply a symbol, a dramatic ceremony that did not do what it signified—it did not take away sins.
On the other hand, this Baptism of Jesus, by water and the Holy Spirit, has an actual effect on our souls, because it infuses God, the Trinity into our souls. Baptism really takes away all sins. It really incorporates the person into the Body of Christ and really
leaves an indelible mark, which marks this person as belonging to God.
There is no other baptism by which we are saved. Jesus told the Apostles to go out into the whole world and baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
May I say it again: Baptism is necessary for salvation. If we are not baptized, then we will not be able to get to Heaven. Why do you think that all the kings of our ancestors, once they became convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith and the necessity of baptism, had all their subjects take Baptism? Because they wanted their people to go to Heaven. Why do you think that after the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego nine million Aztecs and Toltecs got baptized?
They knew that Baptism was the first step in uniting themselves with Jesus and pleasing Mary, His Mother. Baptism would help them get to Heaven. The priests could not keep up with the Baptisms. So great in fact was the demand, they asked the Pope to allow an abbreviated ceremony for them.
In fact, all of our people, all our ancestors, deeply believed that the grace of Baptism, the power of Baptism, the life of Baptism was necessary to free them from the wicked gods that held them captive. Baptism would end the reign of the evil priests and Druids, who killed their children and offered them up to sacrifice to their blood-thirsty gods. Baptism was their real deliverance from Satan and their deliverance to the Good God, who made them. Once they were baptized they
knew that the devil had been beaten. And now they could live a life of light, happiness, and beauty and receive the Salvation that Jesus had promised them in his Resurrection.
Power of healing and protection
Did I mention satan? He is always a character in this drama of faith, isn’t he? Do you remember that when we baptize babies the priest performs an exorcism of the child? He actually prays that this child will be protected from Satan all the days of his life. He puts oil on the heart of the child as an invisible holy shield against the wickedness and snares of the devil. In fact, in the traditional Baptism there are three exorcisms, each incredibly dramatic and forceful. One of the exorcisms the
priest breathes three times on the child in the form of, “I exorcise you, unclean spirit! Come forth, depart from this servant of God, for He Commands you, accursed and damned spirit…” Another time he says, “Therefore accursed devil, acknowledge your condemnation and pay homage to the true and living God…. depart from this servant of God—Depart from him unclean spirit and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Consoler”. Lastly, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the baby’s forehead and says “Accursed devil, never dare to desecrate this sign of the Holy Cross which we are tracing upon his forehead…”
We know that satan is still out there, sometimes in here, prowling around and looking to devour souls. And he does a good job of it. Well, that exorcism is an important part of Baptism because it pushes Satan (actually his hateful influence) out of our souls to make room for Jesus. After Baptism we belong no longer to satan but to God. And thank God for that, because satan will keep trying to seduce us, to corrupt us, to hurt us and drag us down to hell with him.
The struggle never ends, though. Every day satan and his demons whisper in our hearts sweet words of seduction. The demons tickle our minds with the promise of earthly delights. The devils speak to our bodies of the pleasures of pleasure. The demon tell us, “Go ahead. Eat the apple. Don’t pay attention to God. God is so unfair! And what’s more, He is jealous. Go ahead. Do it! You can do what you want, and no one can tell you ‘no’.”
Satan wants to be our master. But if he cannot seduce us, he tries to scare us. That’s what all the skull stuff is. Look at that horror movies and vampires and zombies and the living dead that fill our eyes every time we go to the show, look at the popularity of atheism and Satanism, the evil cult of Death, which is celebrated and promoted in our media and in our politics, the cult of death that drowns itself in abortion and contraception and gives hundreds of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood so that they can make more money selling the body parts of the babies they have killed. Is this not a feast of satan?
All that horror and gore and mayhem. No wonder we need exorcisms in Baptism. Satan is saying to us every day, “You human fools! Look how I mock your God and your Jesus and your Virgin. Look how I spit at you and your devotion to love and life. I will scare you into death and ugliness. Have another grinning skull.” Baptism is our protection against satan. Baptism is our link with the Good God. Baptism is the flood of grace that lifts us out of the grasp of the prince of this world and puts us in the cradle of the Virgins arms—in the folds of her mantle.
Do not wait for the first birthday to baptize your babies. Baptize them in the first month of life, no later than that. Baptize them within four weeks, when they are strong enough to go outside. They need the grace of God, the protection of Our Lord that early in their lives, and Heaven is guaranteed to them if, God forbid, something should happen to happen to them. And please give your children saints names. Give them a patron in Heaven, a heavenly tocayo, who has their back, who watches
over them and guards them. Don’t give them names that mean nothing or are from the telenovelas and Hollywood. Give them the names of Mary, give them her titles like Maria Lourdes or Maria Guadalupe or Fatima, or of the Saints and martyrs and Virgins and Angels. Give them real names, give them protection, give them padrinos in Heaven. And they will thank you for it. And if you missed that opportunity at Baptism, then help them choose a saint’s name for Confirmation!
Take Baptism as seriously as does satan. It is not the excuse to have a first birthday party all rolled into one. Baptism is our most important protection against the wickedness and snares of satan. It is the story of the healing of our past rupture with God and the promise of our future life with Him, and it all begins with Baptism and comes from His Resurrection.