Recently I was asked to explain why young babies need to be baptised as a remedy for sin. Surely they are completely innocent of any sin?
The relevance and importance of baptism for young children arises from the natural (or default) state of humanity before God. The Bible – God’s Word about divine and moral truth – teaches that all of humanity is in need of REDEMPTION (RESCUE) from sin and death in order to attain our final end – communion with God.
Divine revelation tells us about an all good Creation followed by a catastrophic FALL in which humanity misused its freedom and rebelled again God’s goodness and truth. We all (babies included) inherited this Fallen state thereafter. As Christians we believe that in the fullness of time Jesus came as a redeemer (rescuer) and gave us the means to achieve salvation – knowledge of the Truth – esp the Word of God, sacraments – esp baptism, the Church’s pastoral assistance, etc. These gifts together with Faith allow us to avail of the atonement (at-one-ment) present in his sacrificial death on the Cross. For this reason we speak about Jesus as the SAVIOUR, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
The true and terrible price of atoning for our sins is depicted in Jesus’ Passion and Death. It is captured effectively in the Mel Gibson movie Passion of the Christ and in the Shroud of Turin but most especially in the first Reading of the Good Friday Liturgy (‘He was pierced through for our faults, crushed because of our sins… By his wounds we are healed’ Isaiah 53).
An innocent baby adrift on a boat in the middle of the Pacific is still in need of rescue (redemption). This is one way of understanding Original Sin.
Speaking of the plight of innocent children, the following is an Irish Times article about the trial of US abortionist Kermit Gosnell, described by ABC News as “America’s biggest serial killer” http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ann-mcelhinney-abortion-campaigners-should-be-careful-about-what-they-wish-for-1.2423209.