Homily - Homélie

Ecumenical Service Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Semaine de prière pour lunité chrétienne

Notre Dame Cathedral Cathédrale Notre-Dame
January 18 2004 18 janvier 2004

Archbishop Marcel Gervais Monseigneur Marcel Gervais

In Genesis, the flood presents God as the author of destruction; he is the one who avenges himself on the rebellious, on sinners. The rainbow is a sign for God to remember that he has promised to preserve human beings, even sinful humans forever. The rainbow is a sign of the conversion of God, from a God who avenges himself to a God who tolerates sinners, who endures rebellion. He vows to be merciful. For us, who also see the rainbow, it is a sign of God's mercy and of his promise to save us all. It is a sign of God's peace.

Pour nous, Dieu n'est plus une source de menace mais bien un agent de paix pour toute l'humanité. Il désire une paix qui soit à la fois durable et universelle. Son plus ardent désir est de nous voir habiter sous le même toit, dans sa maison.

God is no longer a threat to our peace but an agent of peace for the earth. His will is for peace on earth as in heaven.

What the world needs and what we must provide is a way to destroy the walls that separate us from one another and to build up one house, one home in which we can all live in unity. We all have to deal with our individual identities as peoples. This is built on our blood relations.

Blood relations are very profound. They permeate everything we are and all that we move towards. They are the building blocks of any culture, any ethnic grouping, any nation's identity. Blood relations produce some very important and very beautiful results in everything from dance to music, to poetry, to painting and many other dimensions of social life.

But blood relations can also produce horrors beyond words. The last century is full of examples of what can result from blood relations that transform themselves into barbaric nationalisms; everything from ethnic cleansings to genocidal killings of people who are not of our blood.

Parfois nos liens familiaux, culturels, nationaux et ethniques sont sources de tensions et de divisions. Notre défi est de trouver dans notre foi une force qui nous permette de dépasser les limites de ces liens.

The challenge that faces us as Christians is to raise our eyes and our hearts to a new level that surpasses anything those blood relations can produce. Without suppressing the many wonderful achievements of cultures founded on blood, we have to be nourished by a higher and more noble source, our faith.

By baptism we are made one, we are united in a unity that is far superior to any blood relation. Our unity is in the Body of Christ. By water and the Spirit, we are made children of God - sons and daughters in the Son of God. Our relationship formed by baptism is more profound than anything nationalism can produce. We are no longer identifiable by our nationality, we are no longer children of England or Ireland or France, or Italy - we are children of God. By water we are made one in the Body of Christ.

By water we are opened up not to nationalism but to universality. We are tied to God and to one another by a link that was created for us by the Blood of Christ. His blood is the only blood that counts. Our family's blood, our nations blood has no real significance in the light of our call to become children of the universe, children of God by baptism.

Water is stronger than blood; water and the Spirit have the power to change the world to overcome all prejudice, all hatred.

Les eaux du baptême et l'Esprit nous mènent vers une paix qui dépasse l'entendement humain. Cette paix ne ressemble aucunement à celle que le monde peut nous offrir. Cette paix réside dans le Christ, dans notre foi et dans notre conviction profonde que c'est par lui et en lui qu'elle se trouve.

Water and the Spirit lead us into peace, the peace that Christ gives which is different from the kind of peace the world gives. This peace is based on the confident faith that Christ has conquered the world, has conquered all the negative that blood relations can produce. This is our victory - our faith.

Our unity in faith and baptism is foundational, it is deep and strong. It is already a powerful force in the world, but it could be made so much stronger, so much more productive of good health among peoples and among nations. We should strive to be open to the work of our Lord whose desire is clearly that we become one, completely one in order to give a more powerful witness to the world.

The unity that our Lord longs for is not only for our sake, but also for the worlds sake. For love of the world, for love of all the people who know Christ by halves or not at all, for love of the people who need to see a church, healed of its wounds, a church which attracts by its united witness to one Father, one Lord, this, the world needs.

L'unité que nous sommes appelés à bâtir n'est pas pour nous seuls mais pour toute l'humanité. Nous devons relever ce défi pour notre plus grand bien mais, surtout, pour le plus grand bien de tout le monde.

One final thought: what activates our faith, what makes our baptism a force in our lives? It is clear that we can be baptised but behave as though we are dead; we can be believers with no strength either in our words or in our action. What can turn us to "on"? The Holy Spirit, the Advocate - the strength of God, the power of Christ can turn us "on". To give vitality to us so that our new relationships as children of one Father can come to life and be expressed in a depth of unity that can never be forgotten or overlooked.

We pray for that to happen. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, renew within us hearts that can feel your love, your power, so that the world may know more and more clearly that Jesus is the Lord, the One sent by the Father for love of our world.