Responding to Christ’s Word: Credo, I Believe

As we saw last week, the Mass allows us to listen to Jesus Christ firsthand, to hear him speak his words to you and me personally as it is sacramentally represented to us through the sacred minister. But his words demand a response.

Some respond to Jesus Christ’s preaching by reporting his “scandalous” behavior of curing on the Sabbath to the authorities (John 5:15). Others return to their old beliefs because they got what they wanted from Jesus and that was sufficient for them (Luke 17:12-19) or want to acquire his power for their own use and benefit (John 6:25-30).

Still others turn away or by turning away from him because his teaching is simply too hard:

“Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’… After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’” (John 6:60, 66-67)

Yet Peter responds by expressing his firm belief in the Son of God:

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:68-69)

It is at this point in the Mass, after the Readings and the Homily, that we make our own response to Christ and his words by reciting the Creed. Here we join ourselves to all those disciples who professed their faith in Christ. When I recite the Creed, besides thinking of Peter, I like to think of Martha’s wonderful act of faith in Christ after her brother Lazarus had died:

“Now when Jesus came [to Bethany], he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days… When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.'” (John 11:17-27)

What a marvelous act of faith in Christ, mentioning many things we affirm in the Creed; may we recite the Creed with the same marvelous faith. May we use this moment of the Mass to recommit ourselves to follow Christ with more faith, that is, to follow Christ more faithfully.

We then continue to the Prayers of the Faithful, presenting our needs to God the Father with faith, just as Jesus urged us:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Some will respond to Christ’s preaching by becoming sad and turning away because they have too many possessions to follow Christ (Matthew 19:16-22), while Peter responds with faith, leaving all things to follow Christ (Matthew 19:27-30). We too can show our response of faith by our generosity in the collection at Mass.

So as we listen to Christ’s words in the Liturgy of the Word let us respond to him personally, making our act of faith in word and in the way we live our lives.

Father John Waiss is the pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a member of Opus Dei, the prelature founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.