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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Where was Joseph and why isn't the Eucharist mentioned in the Creed?

Since Mary was present at Jesus’ passion and Joseph was not, is it assumed that Joseph was dead by then?

     It is correct that Joseph is understood to have already died by the time of Jesus’ arrest, passion, death, and resurrection. 

     That said, in tradition it is well accepted that Joseph was significantly older than Mary at the time of their betrothal. Some traditions even give credence to Joseph’s having been a widower at that time and that he had been the father of children of his original marriage. Additional sources say he lived to be anywhere from 90 to as many as 111 years old, dying around the year 20 as we know it.  However, none of these details are necessary for our belief.

     What is of key significance, however, is that we think of Joseph as “foster father” of Jesus and “husband” of Mary. That he plays a significant role from the time of Jesus’ birth through his childhood is all borne out for us by the Gospels.  Meanwhile, since nothing is said of Joseph during Jesus’ adult life, it is quite safe and acceptable to believe that his death came prior to Jesus’ going forth from Nazareth to fulfill the mission for which he was sent.

 

Since the belief in the full presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is such a fundamental truth of the Catholic Faith, why isn’t it mentioned in either creed?

     A great question in light of the type of statements contained and not contained within the two main creeds that we use: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

     The most credible reason why teaching on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not written in either of these creeds is simply that faith in this truth was plainly accepted at the time when these creed were given. Realizing that one of the reasons for the formulations of the creeds was to clearly articulate the true faith and doctrine in the face of errors and heretical views, there is no record of anyone denying the Real Presence of the Eucharist within the Church until the middle age (no earlier than in the 9th century). Meanwhile, both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed come from earlier times – with the Nicene Creed having been formulated in the 4th century and the Apostles’ Creed, which credibly goes back to no later than the 3rd century.

     It is noteworthy that errors and/or unbelief in the Real Presence were not common in the Church’s history until the 16th century Protestant reformation. The
persons of the Middle Ages who espoused heresy or who taught what was errant are both limited in number and isolated in their influence – as compared to those who believed errantly about the Trinity or the person of Jesus Christ in the early centuries, who often had great followings of people in their incorrect or false teachings. That in our own age there are many Christians who either do not accept the Real Presence or who claim to believe it while teaching about it incorrectly is unfortunate. However, by our own witness to this truth of faith through our fitting worship and adoration of the Eucharist, perhaps each one of us can assist others who do not believe toward opening their hearts to this great gift the Jesus offers to all his people in the Holy Eucharist.

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