Ordinary Time, 32nd Sunday (A)

We Catholics we share a common set of beliefs. We believe that we have met God in a significant way, and this God has taught us who He is and who we are. The Creed contains our basic summaries of these truths. There are three significant changes in the translation of the Creed. Here is the new translation:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, (all bow at the following words) and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen

In the current translation of the Mass, we say, “We believe.” The Latin word Credo means “I believe.” It is true that we as a Christian body believe in God. However, saying I believe is more profound for two reasons: First, it challenges each of us. It is easy to hide in a crowd and mumble along with we believe. But Do I really believe this? Do you really believe this? We each must answer for ourselves. Second, we are One Body in Christ. Professing a common faith gives us a common voice. The whole Catholic world can stand up with and say together, I believe.

I always ask Confirmation students this question: Is Jesus God? We believe in only one God. But God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all God. How can there not be three different gods? They are consubstantial. It means that Jesus shares the same Divine ‘substance’ of God the Father. There are three divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but only one Divine nature (one God). This word is not so hard to say if we break it down a piece at a time: con/sub/stantial.

Jesus was really and truly God. But he was also really and truly man. Jesus was a human being just like us. The key word we use to say that he was truly human is the word incarnate. It comes from the Latin word carne meaning “flesh” (a carnivorous animal is a “flesh-eater”). The word in-carne expresses the idea that Jesus came into our human flesh. He didn’t just appear to be a human being. He didn’t just put on a man-suite. He really and truly became flesh like we are. There is a special gesture that accompanies these words. We bow when we say: “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” We bow because Jesus bowed. He is the God almighty and Lord of the Universe. It was a huge act of humility for Him to become a human being.

The Coming of the Lord

It is Jesus who reveals the Father to us and gives us the Holy Spirit. The Incarnation is the key moment when our world became entwined with God. For centuries God was preparing the world to receive the gift of his Son. Yet the Israelite people expected the Messiah to be a great king. They failed to recognize the Messiah in the humble love of Jesus Christ. Even though we know the history of Jesus, we Catholics often make the same mistake. Jesus becomes present here in bread and wine and other Sacraments. He works in our every-day lives. Yet we expect God’s work to be somehow miraculous and spectacular. The Creed reminds us who God is and how He acts. If we learn the Creed well, we will also learn how to recognize God when He appears in humble ways every day.

(6 Nov 2011)