The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples scolded them, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'Then he embraced them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing. Mark 10: 13-16.
Babies Are Not Idiots
Most people act and behave as if infants are deaf and dumb not only to spiritual reality but even to the physical world around them. When most adults speak to an infant, they usually talk nonsense at them; few adults talk to babies or try to engage or interact with them. Just because newborns are preverbal does not mean they are unaware or unreceptive; they are constantly receiving messages and information, especially through their emotions and inner spirits. Infants are complex little people who see, hear, touch, communicate, receive information and who above all, remember.
Praying Like Women in the Old Testament
If we observe a newborn closely, we will catch a newborn when they turn suddenly to look right at their parents when they speak. It was amazing to watch my first grand-daughter turn towards her mum and dad’s voices in recognition but ignore the voice of the nurses. The only answer to my six-hour-old granddaughter's reaction to her parents was that she remembered their voices from her time in the womb; she was aware and receptive while still in the womb. This interaction brought to mind the reaction of John the Baptist, leaping with joy in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, as she greeted a pregnant Mary.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:41-42)
Elizabeth blessed Jesus while He was still in Mary's womb. This is why modern parents should feel comfortable blessing unborn children with the Mercy of God just like pregnant women in the Old Testament. Perhaps those expectant mothers were more spiritually aware than modern women as they often choose to stay in quiet, peaceful seclusion praying psalms while they waited for the birth of their babies.
Babies Can Sense the Mercy of God
Infants know when the Mercy of God is flowing through someone. My most dramatic, personal example of an infant discerning the spirituality of adult was when one of my daughters was six months old. I was holding Mary when a tall, slender, older priest, dressed all in black, gently reached out to hold her. He smiled and patiently waited while Mary tensed her little body, drew back and looked him up and down very suspiciously. She drew back a second time, even further, and once again glanced from his head to his feet and slowly looked back at his face again. A third time Mary repeated the process. Suddenly she relaxed, broke out into a wonderful smile and reached her own arms out to lean forward so Father could pick her up.That baby was receiving unspoken messages from Father’s facial expression, his tone of voice, body language and emotional and spiritual ‘vibes’ which radiated from his inner spirit.
Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau
About the Author
Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.