Sunday 15 April 2012 at 18:30
The new baptised of the Easter night in the churches of Paris, clothed in their white garment, will meet at Notre-Dame for this mass presided by Cardinal André VINGT-TROIS.
This celebration will be preceded by a meeting with the cardinal Archbishop, at 16:00 at the Church of Saint-Séverin.
Homily of Cardinal André twenty-three
We believe in Christ because we trust the word of God, not because we would have seen him resurrected. We receive the signs of effective forgiveness and detachment of the goods of this world as the signs of his action in this world.
AC 4, 32-35; PS 117; 1 Jn 5, 1-6; Jn 20, 19-31
Happy are we since we believed without seeing! Happy sum us since we have answered the call of Christ without having ever met him! Blessed are we, who have been baptized in Christ! Blessed are they particularly, those who have been baptized in this Easter feast 2012!
This passage from the Gospel of John helps us to understand this beatitude which is our beatitude. Thomas needed to see to believe. Through his dialogue with him, Jesus makes us understand that believing what we see is not really faith. If the Gospel can say "blessed are those who believe without seeing" (Jn 20, 29), it is because believing without seeing is really trusting the one who calls us. It is to truly rely on the word of God given to us, "that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah the son of God, and that by our faith we shall have life in his name" (Jn 20, 31).
This is something quite original, that many around us do not understand, and that we even do not grasp completely. We believe that the knowledge we can acquire through our senses and understanding is more reliable than the one we have of Christ that we have never seen. And we can envy the disciples who were seen resurrected. We can even think that if it appeared, everyone would believe. But that is not true, and Jesus says it himself in the Gospel: "even if they saw someone coming back from the dead, they would not believe!" (Lk 16, 31).
It is not because of what we see or what we know by our intelligence that we believe. The primary foundation of faith is the trust we put in the word of God. Surely our faith thus founded is enriched and strengthened by the work of our knowledge. But for us, this knowledge does not refer to the historical person of Jesus, whom no one has seen from his eyes since Ascension and that no one will see until his return. We believe without seeing Christ. As St. Peter wrote in his first epitre, "we love him without seeing him. We believe in him without seeing him again "(1 P l, 8).
However, we still have something to see. Our faith is not blind. It is not because it relies on the sensitive experience that it does not feed on it. What do we have to see, since Jesus has disappeared in our eyes, since we will never put our hands in his side or our fingers in the wounds of his hands, since we will never hear his voice? The history of the Christian community since the resurrection gives us to contemplate realities and experiences.
First there is the great sign of forgiveness, of reconciliation and of mercy it is the mission that the risen one entrusts to his Apostles, and for which he gives them the Holy Spirit: "he poured upon them his breath and said unto them, ' receive the Holy Spirit. Any man to whom you will put away his sins, they shall be handed to him; any man to whom you will maintain his sins, they shall be kept to him. ' (Jn 20, 22-23). The effectiveness of this extraordinary power given by Jesus to his disciples becomes, through the power of his spirit, a sensitive sign of the action of the risen Christ in the heart of mankind. Indeed, "who can forgive sins, if not God alone?" This is the question that the Pharisees are asking themselves in the healing of the paralytic (MK 2, 7). But now, "this power is given to men" (Mt 9, 8), according to the words of the crowd at the end of this episode in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Through the power of the spirit, the Apostles can welcome sinners and reconcile them. All of us can discover that God's love is greater than the evil we can do, that his will for reconciliation is stronger than the hardening of our hearts, that hatred is not the last word in human history. From all this we can experience the sensitive: we know people (we first!) who are sinners and we verify that their faith becomes a force, which allows them to overcome the weakness of their hearts; We see that fallible or unfaithful men and women are brought back to the fullness of fidelity by the power of God's love.
Likewise, we can contemplate another great sign of which we speak the book of the acts of the Apostles: "the multitude of those who had adhered to the faith had only one heart and one soul; and nobody said he owned what he possessed, but we put everything in common. (Acts 4, 32). It all shows up! If the disciples of Christ are able to put into practice a true sharing, and not to tell themselves owners of what they possess, we will see that this is not the simple benevolent generosity, but of something much greater. And the deeds continue: "the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and the power of grace was upon them all." (AC 4, 33). We can see the work of the power of grace when it transforms the way of life of ordinary men and women.
Thus our faith, even if it rests first on the trust we make to the word of God, can also rely on the vision of the work of love in the hearts of men, and we can recognize that Christ can change something in the world and da every one of our existences. So, Yes, we believe without seeing Christ, we believe more firmly in seeing the fruits of the power of Christ acting through his spirit.
The mission we have received is to manifest the fruits of his grace through our way of life. It is now we who must give the signs of mercy, of sharing and of the power of grace in the lives of men. Our life can testify that Christ is the winner of death.
Let the Lord fortify in us the certainty that we have received the Gospel "in order to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that by our faith we have life in his name."
+ André Cardinal Twenty-three, Archbishop of Paris