Religion Column : Our creeds
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
Alicia is not having a good year. Even though she had no symptoms, she tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in April and spent two weeks away from the kids and her husband Jimmy. What made it all worse, when she returned, she learned she had been laid off from her job as a store clerk and was going on unemployment. There was only a small chance she would be recalled. In the ensuing nerve-wracking days, leading up to the reality, she saw her benefits greatly reduced by political wrangling.
Always living paycheck to paycheck, the couple counted upon the steady income of their labors. In January, there was little portent of economic collapse; either their own, or the larger whole. By March, the winds of change had swept the sunny optimism away and replaced it with the windswept grayness of pending catastrophe. Even Jimmy had seen his hours reduced and the family began to rely on the largesse of others. Gone were the outings to the movie theater; replaced by trips to the local food bank and SNAP. Gone were the visits to friends and relatives; replaced with sequestration and masks. School was abruptly ended, with the added costs and tensions of the kids staying at home; coupled with being unsure how soon they would return.
Yes, it was not a great time and the future was quite uncertain. While some elements of society seemed to have some level of comfort, for many the abject diminution of eroding living standards now appeared to be the norm. Yet, while there was every reason to be worried and concerned, both Alicia and Jimmy did not wallow in the sty of self-pity, for they followed a different creed.
In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Jesus said, “Follow me.” What we discover is a much-despised tax-collector, who immediately abandons his avocation to follow whom he believes is his way to salvation. Not only is Matthew adopting a new set of values, both philosophical and theological, but also an adoption of a new lifestyle. In Scripture we learn of this miraculous change and belief in a new creed.
The early Church spent the initial years searching for an agreement in what we Christians are to believe. The influences of both the Greek and Roman polytheists had eroded the teachings of the Christ. In the first centuries, the Seven Great Councils were held and the greatest minds in Christendom attended. At the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D., a Cristian Creed was finally adopted. Referred to as the Nicaean Creed, in brief it begins, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth.” It goes on to state, “and all things visible and invisible and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. I look for the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the world to come.”
As Christians, Alicia and Jimmy were placed in an apparent quandary. On the one hand they appeared to be in rather desperate financial straits; on the other, the sure and certain knowledge of Christ. However, each knew they were to follow the creeds of this knowledge. They are the creeds in surviving this world and the Creeds of meeting, in Glory” in the next.
While they fully understood the Creeds of their Faith, they also knew that their lives’ creeds would need some adjustment and sacrifice. Alicia’s creed now added the return to completing her degree and working part time; while Jimmy took on a second job. The kids learned of these new creeds; this sacrificing for now, for betterment in the future.
They stand as an example for all of us, in difficult times, or any time.