“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die, but have eternal life.”
“That, whoever believes in him avoids condemnation, but whoever does not believe is already condemned, for not believing in the name of God’s only Son.”
These words from John’s gospel should cause us to ask ourselves two questions: First, Do we REALLY believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God?
And second, Do our deeds and actions throughout the course of our lives arise from that belief? In other words, when we make any decisions in our lives, be they life-changing decisions or day-to-day decisions, when we make any decisions, do we let our beliefs, as professed in the Creed that follows this homily, influence and direct those decisions?
As for the first question, Do we REALLY believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God? - A close look at the Creed which we recite at every Sunday Mass might help us to discern what we really believe. When we recite the Creed we say that we believe “in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried. He descended into hell and on the third day rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
Do we REALLY believe what we say we believe every Sunday?
Now, there are several different levels of believing. A person might say: “I could be wrong, but I believe the last year they made DeSotos was 1958.” This type of belief is more of a guess at the truth and doesn’t engender much faith from others that you believe what you say. Some people have religious belief at this level.
Others might say: “ Until someone can prove it to me otherwise, I believe that the theory of eveolution is a fact.” This is the kind of belief a person might carry around “until something better comes along.” It’s not really a heartfelt belief, just something that makes the most sense to them at that particular moment.
There might be others who say: “I believe that the 1974 Steelerswere the best football team ever, ‘cause my dad told me that and he really knew his football.” Many of us come to our faith in the same way, like: “My mom always said that Jesus is God and it must be true ‘cause she was real religious.” But we are called to enter into a deeper level of faith as we grow - to make it OUR fairth instead of our parents faith.
Of course many people believe because they have seen, like: “You bet I believe that dog can catch three frisbees in his mouth at one time, ‘cause I seen ‘em do it!”
All of these levels of faith are indicative of a certain level of trust. The belief that Jesus is calling forth from us in John’s gospel is different in that it requires an effort of TOTAL TRUST. It is a belief that comes not from having seen, not from having someone tell us “this is the way it should be”, and it’s not a belief that we hold “until something better comes along.” NOTHING BETTER IS GOING TO COME! People are always looking for the next best thing, but like Peter said to Jesus: “Where else shall we go Lord, for you have the words of eternal life.”
Our belief in Jesus Christ requires a total trust, a total giving of oneself to the message that Jesus proclaimed: LOVE. Love of God; Love of neighbor. And everyone is your neighbor. “Love one another” he tells us. And this goes to the heart of the second question, whether or not our deeds and actions arise from our beliefs.
If we trust God and believe in his goodness and love with all our hearts, our trust and love should manifest itself through our good deeds.
Paul tells us that we are “created in Christ to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance.” This “life of good deeds” is our participation in the goodness of God It is one of the ways we were created in the likeness of God. It is the very Spirit of God, promised by Christ, that is working through us to help bring about the Kingdom of God whose beginnings were proclaimed by Jesus 2,000 years ago.
The psalmist reminds us never to forget that our destiny, our homeland, is in Zion - the Kingdom of God. Not in this earthly world.
If we truly believe the words we say when we recite the Creed, that belief should give us the inspiration we need to base all of our decisions on our fidelity to Christ and to the Church he left behind as his representative. And the deeds or works that result from those decisions is in reality God, working through us to spread the light of His Kingdom in a world of darkness.
Now let us stand and recite together what we truly believe...
We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of...