Baptized, not evangelized?

Published January 9, 2022, 12:03 AM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD



There was once a woman who brought her child to church for baptism. “What’s the baby’s name?” asked the parish priest.    “Toyota,” said the mother. Taken aback, the priest said, “Why that name?” “Kasi po Father,” she replied, “iyong panganay ko ay nagngangalang ‘Ford,’ yong ikalawa naman ay ‘Mercedes’ at yong pinakamaliit ay ‘Beetle.'”

A ganoon ba?,” irritated, the priest retorted,” Bueno, ano ang gusto mong ibibinyag ko sa kanya: diesel o gasolina?”

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That funny story might well focus our attention on the feast of Christ’s Baptism today and the secularized and unchristian way parents name their children nowadays. For instance, some name their children “Apple Pie,” “Honey Girl”; a Marcos loyalist named his child “Martial Law”; more recent ones, “Tsunami,”“Covid”! The Church’s tradition is to name the child to a saint whose feast falls on the date of his or her birthday. This is to remind the child the saint’s virtues to emulate and be his or her personal guardian and spiritual caretaker. (Check the Catholic calendar).

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When  the Lord waded down the River Jordan and was  baptized by  John,  the sacrament of baptism was inaugurated.  Before ascending to heaven, Jesus made baptism a mandate, saying, “Go., make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:15).

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It  is to the immense credit of Christian  parents  that they  take  to  heart the baptism of their  children. 

It  seems, however,  that  many baptized children grow up  unknowing of religious  instructions and their Christian obligations. All because, there’s no follow-up after baptism.

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For instance, there are  Catholics who come to church three times only in their whole lifetime – when baptized, married, buried or  when “hatched, matched, and dispatched” (to the grave). This happens when parents fail to instruct their children since they themselves are not practising Catholics.

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The  theologian Bernard Cooke in his book,  Christian  Sacraments  and  Christian Personality, writes: “Our baptism is  not  an action which happens once and has no further significance for our life. Rather, all the significance of this sacrament passes dynamically into the daily living of the Christian.”

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In  other words,  it  is not enough for us just  to  accept  baptism passively or as  something  done to us. Our baptism should become an operative power impelling us to act as Christ did.

The absence of this “operative power” of baptism engenders a piety that’s split between faith and practice in day-to-day life. As somebody remarked, “We are baptized but not evangelized.”

One reason behind this religious malady is that our Christian faith and morals have  not  really permeated  and influenced the various spheres of  socio-economic and political life.

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To illustrate: Once I was trying to settle the quarrel between two feuding relatives. “Forgive one another,” I appealed. “God told us to forgive.”

The lady shot back with a reply that almost floored me: “Father, pwede ba, huwag natin isama ang Diyos dito!” (Father, please, let’s not include God here!).

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Because many Christians fail to practice the Christian values and obligations, for instance, to be forgiving, honest, just, charitable, Christianity, as a strong moral force in society, has become ineffective.

Baptismal faith should influence our day-to-day life, relationships and transactions. Parents should teach their children by good example to follow God’s Commandments or the UNIVERSAL LAW: “Do good and avoid evil.”

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Wrong use of baptism. Some years ago in the USA, the news media reported that a father had his one-year-old son baptized 26 times in three years.

When he was asked by a reporter why he had done this, the father answered, “Very simple. Each new godfather was good for at least one loan.”

The use of religion for material gain, as related above, is grossly immoral. In the Philippines, it’s more of having many godparents to serve as political or social connections.

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Appeal for seminarians. We Filipinos are very blest because there are still a good number of young men who wish to become priests and missionaries. But some are financially hard-up due to this Covid-19 pandemic.

May I appeal to our readers to chip in or sponsor our seminarians’ schooling for one year.

For inquiry, e-mail me at: [email protected].

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Family TV massis aired on TV5 One Sport Channel 59,  Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at “MCFI SVD Media” Account on YouTube and Facebook Page. Priest presider: FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD.

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“The Family that prays together stays together”