The 12 Articles of the Apostles’ Creed
During the weeks of Lent as we accompany our Elect who are preparing to receive the Sacraments and as we approach the renewal of our own baptismal promises, we will offer reflection on some of the 12 articles of the Apostles’ Creed and how they directly impact our lives.
Jesus answered and said, “The water I shall give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
In most areas of the Holy Land, fresh flowing water is unavailable most of the year. It is an arid or semi-arid climate with seasonal rain (like Florida, but without ground water) and during the long dry season people used water from cisterns, deep pits that were cemented to trap and store water from the rains. “Living water” was an expression that meant flowing fresh water from a year-round river or spring, a rarity much preferred to water stored in a pit for months.
In the Gospel of John, water (John 3:5, 4:13-14, 7:37-39, 19:34) is a symbol of the gift of new life that Jesus gives in revealing the truth. Through his personal presence, preaching, healing, and ultimately the gift of his life on the Cross, Jesus shows us God, a revelation that calls for the response of faith. In the early years of teaching the faith, the Church formulated the truths revealed by Jesus and through Sacred Scripture into Creeds, summaries of the faith that concisely state what God has revealed that we must believe to be in communion with his Church.
“I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
The first affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed is the most fundamental. The entire Creed speaks of God and of humanity and creation in relation to him.
Jesus reveals fully what was proclaimed by the prophets to Israel: God is truth, God is love. Because God is Truth itself, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, we can entrust ourselves to him. The Original Sin of Adam and Eve began with doubting the truth of God and what he told them. The call of repentance is to recognize the separation that we have caused by our sins and return to God, whose mercy is everlasting. This mercy is affirmed by God’s revelation of his innermost being. By sending the Son and the Holy Spirit to his people, God has revealed that the divine nature is itself an eternal exchange of love, and that we are made to share in that eternal love.
What are the implications of faith in one God? The first article of the Creed presumes and reaffirms the first Commandment: there is only one God, which positively excludes idolatry in every form. In our society, idolatry is often an insidious cult of self-worship. This includes indulgence in an unhealthy self-love and obsessive self-affirmation and the pride of self-reliance. When love and affirmation do not begin with the goodness of God who created me, they quickly degenerate into assertions of absolute autonomy: I decide what is good and evil, and I judge what is revealed by God according to my whims (Cf., Genesis 3:1-24). The implications of this statement of faith include coming to know the greatness and majesty of God, living in thanksgiving for all his gifts, recognizing the unity and true dignity of all people, making good use of created things, and trusting God in every circumstance. As all of us engage in a daily struggle to reject temptation, overcome sin, and live as children of God, every choice that we make comes back to a choice for the God who is truth and love or against him.