“I have heard some of my non-Catholic Christian friends say that they believe people should only be baptized into the Christian faith at the “age of reason,” when they are old enough to understand what is being done. Obviously, infants have no clue what is going on when they are being baptized, and for this reason, infant baptism makes no sense to them. So if babies don’t get what’s going on, then why do we bother?
In Colossians 2, St. Paul explains that baptism is the “circumcision of Christ.”
“and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” -Col 2:11-12
What do we know from Scripture about circumcision? Let’s look at the deal God made with Abraham in the Old Testament:
“God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations” -Gen 17:9-12
We know from the Bible that baptism is the first step in attaining salvation (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet 3:21), and that it is the “circumcision of Christ.” Notice in Genesis 17 that circumcision of the 8-day-old babies is a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, rather than each individual circumcision being only a sign between the circumcised and God.
Denying baptism to an infant is depriving them of this grace. It was Jesus who said “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)
This outward sign of grace is important for the parents and godparents also. The Catechism explains it this way:
“For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).” -CCC #1255
Much like the act of circumcision of male descendants being a sign of the covenant (binding agreement) between God and Abraham, so then infant baptism is also a sign of the covenant between God and the parents who have been entrusted with raising their children in the faith.