As we continue to prepare for our new Mass translation,
Let’s look at the Creed we profess every Sunday.
If you take out those red books,
we can look on page 5
and see what’s different.
The first thing you’ll notice is we’ll now say “I believe,”
not “we believe.”
The reason for that change
is that it emphasizes that not only is this Creed
something we say together,
it is also something personal for each one of us.
Then, scan down to where it says to bow.
Notice the wording changes to,
“was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”;
it used to say, “was born of the Virgin Mary.”
Why this change?
Well, because what we’ve been using was inaccurate;
The point the Creed makes is not about when Jesus was born,
but the fact that he became human through Mary—
which, obviously, happened before his birth:
in fact, when he was conceived, nine months before.
Now, let’s focus on a change that has gotten a lot of attention.
Scan up a four lines, and you’ll see the word, “consubstantial.”
That replaces “one in being.”
This change has raised some hackles.
Some object it’s a hard word to understand;
but that can’t be helped:
it’s describing a reality that’s just as hard to understand.
Now what I’m going to say here is kind of heavy.
Please bear with me.
This is one of the most profound mysteries of our Faith,
so it’s supposed to be hard stuff.
This Creed was adopted by the Council of Nicea in AD 325.
They had a particular thing they wanted to say
about God’s true nature.
They prayed and debated over key words—
and this was one of them.
The thing is, what they were trying to say
is just doggone hard to say.
So why isn’t “one in being” good enough?
The problem is not that it’s false, but that it’s not precise.
It’s not a stretch to imagine describing two ordinary human beings—
say, two spouses—as “being one” or “one in being.”
Consubstantial means something much more specific than that.
It’s describing a reality that only applies to God.
It means that what the Father is—as God—the Son is too.
But not two “substances”; but only one.
So, when two spouses become “one,”
they don’t cease to be separate human beings.
However close they are, they aren’t one
in the way that only God, himself, can be “one.”
The bishops at the Council—struggling for the right word—
were trying to say this: whatever God is, there’s only one;
and the Son is that one and same reality.
The issue, back then, was whether Jesus is God.
And even if you call Jesus “God,” what do you mean?
Is he “sort of” God? Is he a kind of a junior God?
Even to this day, a lot folks take “Son of God” to mean
that Jesus is somehow less than God the Father.
Notice how people will say, “God and Jesus.”
So the Creed was intended to make as clear as a bell
that Jesus truly, really and totally is God.
What the Father is, as God, the Son is too.
One and the same—to the nth degree.
OK, so what’s that mean to us?
It has to do with what our eternal hope is.
Paul told us in the second reading,
the goal of our Faith is to be with Jesus forever.
If Jesus is not God—why is he our hope?
If he is only near God—
that means “near” is as close as we’ll ever come.
But here’s the truth the Creed tells us:
When we become one with Christ through baptism,
and we stay with Christ through our life,
and we go to be with him in eternity,
our destination isn’t somewhere in the “neighborhood” of God.
We’re not going to be in the cheap seats!
Our future “home address” is the heart of the Son—
which is also the “consubstantial,” one and same
heart of the Father.
Another practical application:
for everyone who wonders why we Catholics
make such a huge deal about the Eucharist: here it is.
Our “communion”—union with—is with Jesus himself.
And this Creed tells us, that is also union with God the Father.
Every time we are at Mass, we are challenged to ask ourselves:
am I ready for this? Have I fasted?
Do I believe what the Church teaches me?
Do I live as a Catholic?
Have I confessed my sins?
Am I at peace with my neighbors?
Am I ready to say, “I believe?”