The Liturgy of the Word ends with two more ‘words’, the Creed and the Intercessions. The Creed can look and sound like a dry and formulaic recitation of a bunch of old doctrines. Not true! The Creed is a living and active thing, but it only makes sense when we see it in connection with the Scriptures. In just a few short words (224 to be exact), the Creed summarizes the basic outline of the entire Bible. If you want to review the Creed, you can find it in the Breaking Bread missal on page 12. The Bible teaches us that there is one God and he is Father and creator. He is also Son and Redeemer, and Spirit who gives us life. These three persons are the great actor in the history of the world. The Creed teaches us that human history is not a series of random events. The little bits are part of one great complex and dramatic story. History is “His story” – it tells the tale of God and man, and the dramatic battle between good and Evil. The Creed not only summarizes the Bible but it also summarizes the world we live in, both its past and its future.
When we start using the new Mass translation this Advent, you will notice that the Creed has changed a lot. The translators have been very careful and precise. They went over every possible English word to find the words that best translated the Latin. What we believe makes us who we are; we need to be very careful to say it clearly. The biggest change is from “we” to “I”. The word Creed comes from the Latin word Credo, which means, “I believe.” In the current English translation we say, “We believe…” It’s true that we all believe this, but that is not what the Latin had in mind. The Latin used “I” because it is also challenging each believer. It is easy to hide in a crowd and mumble along with everyone else. Do you really believe this? God is the center of history; is He the center of my life? The Creed challenges each and every one of us.
The Nicene Creed in the Mass 2.0
We believe in one God,
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
God from God, Light from Light,
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
We believe in one holy catholic
I believe in one God,
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
God from God, Light from Light,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
I believe in one, holy,
Lord, Hear our Prayer
The Gospel, the Homily, and the Creed all challenge us. They explain to us what God expects from us and ask if we believe God and if our actions match our beliefs. If we have listened carefully, we have probably felt ourselves challenged. So the obvious thing to do now is to turn to God in prayer. In what is known as the Prayers of the Faithful or the Intercessions, we ask God for help for ourselves and our world. This moment reminds us of what great love a Christian is called to have. We pray for our neighbors and people half-way around the world. We pray for our Church and other churches. We pray for all those in need. We lift up those of little faith. This is a moment for us to reach out to the whole world, gather it up, and offer it to God. The Intercessions are an act of love.
They are also an act of Priesthood. During this part of the Mass, the People exercise their own Priestly function. As you know, the priest’s job is to pray and sacrifice for the People of God. But every Christian is called to pray and sacrifice for the World. As the priest brings Jesus to the Christian people, so the Christian people bring Jesus to the world. The Intercessions prepare God’s people for the job you will face the rest of the week: to pray and offer sacrifices on behalf of the whole world. Don’t be afraid; God is with you.
Today’s readings [19th Sunday in Ordinary Time] show Peter doing the impossible — walking on water. He can do it as long as he continues to believe in Jesus. When the wind whips up, Peter starts to lose his faith, and he sinks. This same thing happens to us. Here in Church we strengthen our faith in Christ. During the rest of the week, we struggle to continue to believe. This is why we need to return to church every week and repeat once again: I believe.
(7 Aug 2011)
The Hubble Deep Field Image (the best I could find on the web)
More amazing pictures at HubbleSite