Reflections on the Creed: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”
The Creed is the Church’s perennial response to the question that Jesus asks each of us: “Who do you say that I am?” We respond, “I believe…” What we believe about Jesus sets us apart, defines us as Christians.
God the eternal Word makes himself approachable and accessible in human flesh, and even in human words, in Christ the eternal Son. Through him, we are also God’s children who share the everlasting inheritance of the eternal Word.
Jesus possesses a divine glory and so he is uniquely able to reveal the Father to us (John 1:14, 18). The Son is consubstantial with the Father, and that is why we trust his revelation. The two share a single divine nature.
When we know that Jesus Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,” we will see his light and see all things in his light. This is a grace we can ask for and receive. Like any grace, it will change us.
Jesus is true God through the divine nature he received from his divine Father. But he is also true man from the human nature he received from his Blessed Mother. Mary is the way Christ came to us. Her cooperation with grace set the standard for us.
God came to be with us and also to save us. Humanity could not remove itself from the mire and tangle of sin which began with the disobedience of our first parents, and so Jesus came to redeem us. He is our Savior.
Passover was a festival that commemorated the deliverance of God’s chosen people from slavery in Egypt. Jesus, however, came to bring a far greater liberation – he came to bring salvation to all people from the slavery of sin and death. In the old Passover, the customary sacrifice was a lamb. In the New Testament, Jesus is the Lamb of God who offers the sacrifice of his own Body and Blood.
On the third day – after his death and burial – Jesus rose again, truly alive and glorified. The two events are intimately connected in the Creed, as they are in history. This is the mystery of the Passover. With Jesus, we “pass over” from failure, from death, and from the catastrophic effects of original sin. We pass over to redemption, to grace, to new life in him.
The celebration of the Incarnation is the recognition that God chose to be one with us so that we might be one with him. As we profess at Mass, may we come to “share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” He came to sanctify us so that we might share eternal life with God in heaven.
Our lives should be guided by the hope of the resurrection. We direct all our affairs and actions according to the understanding that we already have this new life within us, the Spirit of the risen Lord, especially in the sacraments given to us by Jesus, and most particularly in the Eucharist.
Jesus’ life and death have given profound meaning, dignity and even power to every human life and death. There is no limit to what we, as Jesus’ disciples, can do to live a fuller life in Christ and to share that life with others.
The Ascension brings to a conclusion the earthly life of Jesus, but it also opens up for us the earthly life of the Church. The New Testament presents this event, not merely as an ending, but as a beginning. Jesus’ risen body is with the Father in glory. On earth, the Body of Christ will be his Church, alive in the Holy Spirit. The Church, his spiritual body, is where we now find Christ.
This is the second in a series based on passages from “Faith that Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed.”