|Christ Calling his First Disciples by Adam Brenner|
Sunday's first scripture reading takes us back to the eighth century before Jesus (the 700s). Isaiah speaks about the future: a great light, a king, will illuminate the darkness. This king will trust completely in God. Isaiah challenges us to trust always in God’s unconditional love. God is always close to us.
Paul, in his letter to the Christian community at Corinth in Greece, deplores the divisions that seem to be tearing the early Church apart. He begs for unity in the community in light of their common bond as God's adopted sons and daughters. It doesn’t appear we Christians see ourselves as one family.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, the author proclaims that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies. Jesus is the anointed one, the Christos, who will bring light into our darkness by proclaiming the good news: Jesus, the God-man, is gloriously alive. Jesus exhorts us to orient our lives to God! The kingdom of heaven is at hand!
And then Jesus begins to call some unlikely people to discipleship. These folks experienced, at some privileged moment, an overwhelming sense of the divine in Jesus. They recognized with the eyes of faith what lay beneath and beyond the immediate appearance, i.e., the reality of God in Jesus the Christ. And we see that too with eyes of faith.
Our faith, a gift from God, empowers us to relate to God. It answers fundamental questions: Who really am I? What on earth am I here for? Faith calls us to commit ourselves to Jesus Christ: our way to eternal life, our truth who sets us free and our light who illuminates the darkness around us as we journey toward our heavenly home. Faith is about connectedness to a person.
Belief, on the other hand, is a profession of essential truths. We say in the Nicene Creed from the 4th century: I believe in one God, despite many who question God’s existence. Yes, we say: our God is almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all visible and invisible. Someone completely other and completely beyond ourselves; One who is the cause for all creation: God, Father Almighty.
And yes, we believe in one lord, Jesus Christ, who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and became flesh, one of us. Jesus for our sake – “as a ransom” -- was crucified, died, and rose again to life.
Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the lord, the giver of life. The power of the Spirit is within us, enabling us to live a life worthy of our calling.
And we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic community. We acknowledge one baptism and look toward the resurrection and the life to come.
The Nicene Creed underscores the essential content of our faith. May our faith help us to find purpose in life and lead us on into our heavenly dwelling place.