Session 11: The Light of Christ

Resources for participants

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

11A

  • Think of some famous logos or advertising straplines. Why do they work?
  • What symbols are used by the different religions? What do they mean?
  • How many Christian symbols can you think of? What does each one represent?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

11B

  • Have you ever felt the presence of God in your life? What did the experience mean to you?
  • What comes to mind when you think about Jesus? How would you explain him to someone else? What does he mean to you?
  • Where did you learn about Jesus? Where do your ideas come from?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

11C

  • How would you describe God to someone who knew nothing about him?
  • What are your favourite images of God or ideas about God?
  • When you pray, do you speak to “God” or to “the Father” or to “Jesus” or to “the Holy Spirit”? Do you know why? What difference does it make to your prayer?
  • What other ideas or questions strike you from this part of the film?

 

READINGS FROM THE YOUCAT FOR THIS SESSION

If you are using the YouCat with your Sycamore group, please click here for general advice about the YouCat and how to use the readings. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

  • #26 to #40 – the Christian understanding of God, the Holy Trinity [9 pages]

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the YouCat and not to page numbers. The number in [square brackets] at the end tells you roughly how long this passage is in terms of the pages you need to read (excluding picture pages).

 

LONGER READINGS FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

If you have more time, and if you want to go deeper into the topic of this session, you can follow up by exploring the longer Catechism of the Catholic Church. See the standard online version here, and a digital “flip-book” edition here. Here are the readings that go with this week’s Sycamore session:

NB the numbers (#) refer to paragraph numbers in the Catechism and not to page numbers. Click on the links themselves to read the paragraphs in the online version.

 

KEY IDEAS FROM THE FILM

11A – The Christian Creed

One of the most important symbols of Christian faith is the creed. A creed is a written summary of what Christians believe. Jesus said “the truth will set you free”, and the creed presents the central truths of Christian teaching.

It’s the whole amazing adventure of faith, from before creation until the end of time, squeezed into just a few lines, with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the very centre. In itself, the creed is tiny, but it’s like a crystal that reflects the light of a million suns, or a data stick that contains a code to unlock the mysteries of the universe.

There are different versions of the creed. The Nicene Creed is incredibly old. It goes back to the fourth century.

The Apostles’ Creed is even older. It goes back nearly two thousand years to the Christian community in second century Rome. It sums up the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of the whole bible in just a few words. It gives you a direct connection with the faith of the early Church.

What do you believe? What do you care about? What motivates you? It’s not just a religious question. Everyone has their own convictions and values, even if they don’t use the words “faith” or “belief”. For Christians, the creed is absolutely central. It’s a symbol, a summary, of what we believe. And it becomes a sign of our commitment to that faith over the years.

11B – The Light of Christ

Christians believe that Jesus is the Light of the World. When he was born of the Virgin Mary two thousand years ago, a new light dawned for the whole of humanity. Everything changed.

In the Nicene Creed it says that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God”. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. That God stepped into our world and became one with us in our humanity. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. He is one person, with two natures, human and divine. So when we see the face of Jesus we are looking into the face of God.

This faith marks Christianity out from every other religion. We don’t just have a teacher or a prophet or a great leader. We have a Saviour who is the Eternal Son of God. He gave his life for us on the cross. He rose from the dead for our salvation. He offers us forgiveness and peace. He invites us to share in his life through the gift of the Holy Spirit and through the Church. This is incredible news.

The light of Christ shines through history and touches every life. A lovely symbol of this is the crib. In early December, many Christians build a crib – a model of the Christmas scene – in their homes and churches, to help them remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

11C – The Holy Trinity

Christians, like Jews and Muslims, are monotheists. We believe that there is only one God, the creator of all that exists. He is infinite, eternal, all powerful, just, loving, holy. His divine nature is one and undivided.

But Christians also believe that within the unity of God there is a communion of three divine persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are equal in majesty and glory. Each of them is the one true God. They differ only in their relation with each other.

The three divine persons love each other and share their life with each other. So within the unity of God there is giving and receiving, loving and understanding, rejoicing and thanksgiving. The life of God is something so mysterious and rich and beautiful.

We can’t pretend to understand all this. It’s not unreasonable, but it’s certainly beyond what reason can understand. We believe it because it has been revealed to us by Jesus Christ. Our faith is founded on him.

When you come to know about the Trinity you start to see it everywhere. The New Testament is full of references to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, even if the word “Trinity” does not appear itself.

God the Father sends his Son to live and die for us. The Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus at his baptism, and then upon the whole Church at Pentecost. Jesus tells the apostles to baptise people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

The Christian creeds are often written in three parts to reflect the work of the Trinity. Many Christians begin their prayers by making the Sign of the Cross, as they say “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

The Trinity is the central doctrine of Christianity. But it’s much, much more than just a doctrine. It’s our very life, our hope, and our salvation.