Q — I have a younger brother who was converted to Islam due to his marriage to a Muslim woman. I believe deep in his heart that he is still attached to Christ. Our family is a strict Catholic household and also my brother still maintained his saint’s name after his Muslim name. My question is this: “Is his baptism still void according to the holy sacrament or will Christ Jesus still recognize him in the later life?”

A — Whenever someone leaves the Christian family, for whatever reason, it is a source of sadness and grief. Indeed, this sadness and grief may be accentuated when our sister/brother leads us to join another religious faith, in this particular instance Islam. The question that is asked focuses first and very specifically on the sacrament of baptism. In baptism someone is grafted by God’s gracious action through the church onto the Body of Christ. This is a gift of God. God never takes back his gifts, and so the gift of baptism, even in the difficult situation when someone wanders from the faith and from the church, remains. That is why the sacrament of baptism may never be repeated. God never takes back his gifts. The question then is raised about Jesus recognizing your brother “in the later life.” I am assuming that you mean by this after his life in this world comes to an end, after death. In the nature of the case this is an issue about which we cannot arrive at a position of absolute certitude. However, it seems to me, that there is much to learn from the parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 15. The younger son in the parable wanders away from the father’s house. His father never gives up on him, and is constantly watching and waiting for signs of his son’s return home. When the son eventually comes home, contrite and ashamed, his father runs out to meet him, to welcome him, to celebrate his homecoming. The father in this parable is an image of God. Even though we may wander far from God, God never distances himself from us. He watches and waits, ever ready to welcome and to embrace. I find great consolation in this parable, and I hope it helps thinking about your situation.