Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2002
Apostles' Creed proclaims beliefs
By FR. JOHN SPICER
Each Sunday of the year during the celebration of the Eucharist, we voice our belief in the basic truths of our Christian faith. This prayer is known as the Creed.
The word Apostles was joined to it because the truths we profess in it are rooted in apostolic times.
The Apostles' Creed spells out in more detail the prayer we have already looked at, namely, the Glory Be To The Father. It also adds truths that have to do with our mother, the Church, as well as other basic truths.
The creed begins by acknowledging God as "the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth."
As our Father, God created for us a heaven and earth wherein we would live and grow. This creation is still unfolding and so are we. But God, happily, continues to father/mother this unfolding.
The creed then goes on to spell out who Jesus is and what he has done for us. "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary."
There is much consoling truth in these words. First, though the Trinity was, and is, at work in all God's outward activity, it was the Second Person alone who took on our human nature.
Not only did he become human, but also as St. Paul also makes clear in writing to the Corinthians, "For our sake, he (God) made him to be sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:22). Thus Jesus, though sinless himself, took on our fallen human nature and so justified us.
Concerning Mary's virginity, there has been some controversy. Father Raymond Brown, the outstanding Catholic Scripture scholar (recently deceased), says that though Mary's perpetual virginity cannot be conclusively proven from Scripture alone, it is made certain by the teachings of the Church.
Both Mary's perpetual virginity and her Immaculate Conception are defined articles of faith.
(I add here that virginity in Jewish thought meant more than physical virginity. For God said to the Jews, "I am the groom, you are the bride." Hence virginity also meant a marital faithfulness to God, thus outlawing homage to false gods. Mary was a virgin in both senses.)
The creed then goes on to spell out that Jesus, "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried."
The creed here presupposes our knowledge of Jesus' actions and teachings as described in the New Testament and goes right to the end of his life, an ending that gave absolute verification to his life and all that he taught.
The cross was, and still remains (in meaning), the most terrible and ignominious of deaths. For it was only by such a shocking death that evil could be portrayed in all its terrible darkness and God's love for us in all its wonderful greatness.
But the end was not yet. Only in the Resurrection was God's work in Jesus brought to its fullness (a fullness that included the Ascension and the giving of the Spirit).
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