• Readings for today's Mass

The Creed: Statement of our Faith

Summary of main ideas

From the time of the apostles, the Creed has been part of the Church's shared life – declaring acceptance of the astounding claims of Christian faith. Of course, the Creed has evolved – from the simple formula, "Jesus is Lord", to the more elaborate statements of the very ancient Creed we call "The Apostles' Creed", and the Nicene Creed used in the Sunday liturgy (4th century).

The Creed should be more than a statement of orthodox faith dutifully repeated each week. It should be the prayer with which we conclude the Scripture readings of the liturgy of the Word. Everything depends upon what the opening words mean to us, "We believe in God". In common usage, the words, "I believe", often expresses uncertainty and hesitation. In our creedal declaration, they should express a commitment that shapes our lives as persons. As St Augustine pointed out to his people, the words, "We believe in God", mean more than "We believe that there is a God", or "We accept all that God has revealed". Like the words, "I believe in my friend", our declaration should mean that we rejoice to own the God upon whom we can rely - no matter what.

The Creed soon came to have a sequence of three articles, referring to the three Persons of the divine Trinity. This sequence, we should notice, also gives the Creed a narrative form: creation is the work of the Father; the re-creation of a lost world is the work of the Son, and redeemed humanity's journey towards the final Kingdom of God is the work of the Holy Spirit. As we conclude our readings from the Word of God with the creedal declaration, we should recognize that the Creed's succinct narrative summarizes the great story in the Scriptures, of how the designs of God for God's people have unfolded.

In the First Article, we proclaim the heart of the Good News of the faith. The eternal Father is not only the all-powerful Creator, but also our loving and merciful Father. The Second Article declares the faith of the Church in the eternal Son, "one in being with the Father", who through his Incarnation became one of us and gave expression in our midst to the ways of his Father. For Christian faith, God is revealed in events within our human history - events that came to an astounding climax in the death and resurrection of the Saviour. The Third Article proclaims our faith in the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Father and the Son, through whose outpouring the Church lives and makes its way towards the final Kingdom – welcoming all peoples and cultures, bringing healing and reconciliation, already owning the seeds of final resurrection and eternal life.

The final part of the talk concerns the mystery of the Trinity – a truth only known through God's revelation and beyond the complete understanding of any creature. It should not surprise us that in immeasurable divine greatness there is an overflowing superabundance. The God of old Israel's faith is the one whom Jesus called, "Father". Already in the Old Testament, the Father's self-expression took the form of "Word" and "Spirit". In Jesus, it is revealed that these self-expressions have been so complete that all that the Father is as God is also theirs. They possess with the Father one and the same divine greatness, life and freedom – the realization of what to us is an impossible ideal. They are not three Gods but three who are distinct from one another, while each is one with the divine greatness – "Three Persons, in one Nature".