CACINA

What do you believe?

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on January 28, 2009

I’d like to share a few thoughts on the meaning behind the Creed we say each Sunday. Too often we rattle through it without much prayerfulless. The creed has a history behind it and is also a statement of who we are as Christians. Perhaps this will give you food for thought, and so we begin:

We believe in one God.

One God? There was a recent newspaper article that talked about a group of women who worked together on a project, some were Christian and others were Moslems. The writer of the article stated that these individuals were able to work as one even though they worshiped different Gods. Of course there was a retraction of this statement since God, by whatever name we give, is still God, the one and only. In our new multicultural society the monotheistic presumption of our youth has been turned on its head by believers in multiple gods that are strange to Western ears. Despite this, there is still only one God by whatever name or names we call God.

Even in the early church the concept of one God caused problems. If there is only one God how can Jesus be God or the Holy Spirit be God? Councils were called. The very existence of the entire Roman Empire was at stake since religion and the state were so closely linked. It was in Nicea that a statement of beliefs we recite each Sunday was created.

Who is God?

Human definitions of God vary. I suppose you would get a different answer based on each person’s perception of who and what a God is if we believe in God’s existence at all. In a sense, God is created in our own image since we have no words to describe an existence. When Moses asked God by what name the people of Israel should call their God, God simply answer “Tell them I am who I am.”

What is it you believe about God?

Georgetown university decided to open a campus in the gulf nation of Qatar. They determined that their class offerings would be the same as those in their DC campus and sent Jesuit Fr Ryan Maher, SJ to teach his Comparative Religions course. “Do you think you will be going to hell, Father?” There was a pause after which the other student said “Yes.” And then “Sorry Father.” It was then that Fr Maher began to reflect on what he was teaching. In the US his The Problem of God class was just another academic subject. He expected his students to study, debate and regurgitate the correct answers to the exams questions. Here, however, he was faced with an entirely new variable, students whose belief systems were not an academic exercise but part of who they are. “It’s not that we don’t know bout religion, it’s that we don’t understand faith and its life shaping power, ” noted Fr Maher in discussing his two year experience. How many of us can say that about our faith?

Its all about the Iced Tea.

Henry from a small town in Mississippi was the parish maintenance man. Being a true southerner from a rural area he was not as sophisticated as we might expect. Henry drank his milk right from the carton and left a spit of iced tea in the pitcher even though he knew there wasn’t enough for his wife. His wife of three years was slowly working to change Henry to get him to think about his actions.

One day Henry was leaving for work and decided that a nice glass of iced tea would be just the thing he needed to jump start his day. Like usual Henry poured himself a glass and placed the nearly empty pitcher bag in the refrigerator. He headed out the door, started his pickup and was about to put it into gear when he had an epiphany. He realized that not only was leaving a nearly empty pitcher going to rive his wife crazy he realized he really loved her. So, he turned off the car, went inside, washed out the pitcher and brewed a new pot of tea and even sliced up some lemons. Henry knew that if he truly loved his wife he needed to demonstrate it by his actions.

When we say we believe in God that belief should not just be an academic pursuit but one which permeates our thoughts and actions. When I am at work, do I act in a loving and caring manner? Do I treat my neighbors with respect even when I disagree with them? Can the poor and those in need count on me to place their needs before my desires? Does my desire for more money, a better position, a bigger house and more personal recognition become the rule of my life? Are my spouse,children and parents first in my life or does work or hobbies crowd them out?

Belief in God is an action statement not just a declarative one. Will I fail in my belief? Yes, the Apostle Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps our prayer should be like the father of the child possessed who sought Jesus’ help: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

(to be continued)

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