The Creed is a summary of doctrines and fundamental Christian beliefs. Most of the time we recite the Nicene Creed, which is short for its full name: the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. If we were required to refer to that creed by its full name, I suspect we would always recite the Apostles Creed instead, just to avoid that tongue-twisting phrase.
Anyway, after reciting the Nicene Creed thousands of times during my life — while actually paying attention to the words about 5% of the time — I recently noticed something interesting about the Creed. As we are listing all the truths about who God is and what He’s done, we say this about Jesus, God’s one and only Son: “...he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became Man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate…”
Without skipping a beat, we go from Jesus being a newborn baby to Him being crucified by the Romans. The Creed completely skips 33 years of Jesus’ life, including His three-year public ministry. Doesn’t that seem kind of odd?
(The Apostles’ Creed makes a similar jump, using a mere comma instead of a new sentence: “...who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried…”)
All those statements of faith are very important. They define what it means to be a believing Christian. But don’t you think they could’ve squeezed in a line or two about Jesus’ ministry years, rather than going directly from “baby in a manger” to “man dying on a cross”?
After all, if you read the gospels in the Bible (and you should), there are 12 chapters that focus on Jesus’ birth and crucifixion. That means there are 57 other chapters devoted to His earthly mission, which is almost 83-percent of the gospel writings. Now, I’m not saying that 83% of the Creed should be devoted to Jesus’ ministry years, but it would’ve been nice if they included a couple of brief items, such as, “For three years He taught people about God’s kingdom and did many miracles to prove He was divine.”
We should look at it this way: we are very lucky to have the Creed to remind us of the core doctrines of the faith. Plus, we have the Bible, where we can read about all the remarkable things Jesus did during His public ministry.
Here are two important goals: first, let’s really pay attention to the words when we recite the Creed at Mass; and second, let’s read the gospels in our Bibles on a regular basis. After all, that’s how we’ll really get to know the Lord who loves us and saves us.