In the gospel of John, Jesus said 'I give you a new commandment; love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, every one will know that you are my disciples.'
This simple message to 'LOVE,' can easily be felt through the eyes of parents holding their new born baby, you feel their unconditional love. In baptism, the parents sign of faith is passed on to the baby, as true disciples of Jesus.
I was fortunate enough to witness a baby's baptism recently and was very struck by what the priest said in his homily. Father Michael, allowed me to share what he said:
'Why do we want to baptise this little baby at the age of sixteen days? Well, think of it like this. Suppose a fairy-godmother appeared and said you could make three wishes. What would you wish for?
Before you answer, the fairy-godmother tells you’re not entirely free in your choice. As in all fairy-stories there’s a stipulation. The fairy-godmother has two lists - a red list and a green list. Whatever you wish for, your wishes must be from the same list. You can’t pick and mix. So all three wishes have either got to be from the red list or the green list.
Here’s what you can wish for on the red list: Physical beauty; fame; power; financial security; perfect health; success; artistic talent; wealth; influence.
And here’s what you can wish for on the green list. Patience; kindness; generosity; self-respect; compassion; tolerance; integrity; honesty; loyalty.
The question is: which list would you make your choices from: the red list or the green list?
Now if I were making the choices, I’d choose from the red list. Here’s why. The items on the red list are outside anyone’s control, so you might as well take advantage of the fairy-godmother to grant them.
But the items on the green list don’t need a fairy-godmother. The baby's parents, godparents and all of us by our love, care, influence and example can lay the foundations that’ll encourage the baby to grow up to develop the qualities and virtues on the green list: patience, kindness, generosity and so on.
Now those qualities are the qualities and virtues we’d expect to find in followers of Jesus Christ. In fact, they’re qualities we find in Jesus himself. And he asks us to follow in his way.
In bringing a baby for baptism, the parents are saying that they want to see him or her grow as a follower of Christ, and that they’ll do all they can to ensure that the baby will. In taking on that commitment they’re saying that they want to share their faith with the baby. That doesn’t mean they have to be walking catechisms or experts in theology. The main thing they have to remember is the teaching of Jesus in the gospel: a teaching that couldn’t be simpler. ‘This is my commandment,’ says Jesus. ‘Love one another.’ That’s the sign of a disciple of Jesus; someone who loves.'