vendredi 30 mars 2018

Pourrquoi le disons-nous vivant ? (Pâques)


S’il s’agit de dire pourquoi nous sommes disciples d’un homme mort il y a quasi 2 000 ans et que nous disons vivant, nous sommes dans l’embarras. Le dire vivant, qu’est-ce que cela signifie ? S’il s’agit d’une leçon apprise, d’une doctrine, d’une idéologie, d’un catéchisme, il est évident que cela ne peut le rendre vivant. Personne n’est vivant après sa mort de ce qu’un texte, fût-il autorisé, l’affirme. Comment vivons-nous avec le vivant ?
Certains des disciples finissent par ne plus rien penser des affirmations officielles de la foi. Ils sont plus nombreux qu’on le pense, surtout si l’on ne traite pas immédiatement de mauvais croyants, peu croyants, ceux qui ne sont pas avec l’Eglise ses rites et doctrines, comme des poissons dans l’eau.
Thomas d’Aquin dont la pensée tient un rôle de référence dans le catholicisme, depuis un certain nombre de siècles, en fait pas tant que cela, parce qu’il a commencé par être condamné, ou du moins certaines de ces thèses, écrit que la foi ne s’arrête pas à l’énoncé, mais vise ce que cet énoncé désigne.
« Quiconque croit adhère au dire de quelqu’un. C’est pourquoi, il semble que ce qu’il y a de principal et qui est comme la fin de chaque croyance, c’est celui à la parole de qui on donne son adhésion, tandis que ce qui est comme secondaire, ce sont les choses auxquelles on tient dans cette volonté d’adhérer à quelqu’un. » « Dans le symbole, on tend vers ce en quoi il en va de la foi pour autant que l’acte du croyant y trouve sa fin, comme le montre la manière de parler. Or l’acte de foi se termine non à la proposition mais à la chose : nous ne formons en effet des énoncés si ce n’est pour avoir par eux la connaissance des choses, dans les sciences comme dans la foi. » (ST 2a 2ae. q. 11, a. 1, resp.et q. 1, a. 2, ad 2um).
Que disons-nous, que vivons-nous, que croyons-nous quand nous disons Jésus ressuscité, vivant ? Nous disons, à en croire les quatre évangiles, d’abord, brutalement, abruptement, un vide. Le tombeau est vide, le corps n’est pas là. On ne pourra s’y attacher quoi qu’on l’aurait voulu, on ne pourra rien saisir, retenir. Les affirmations homologuées ou non, canonisées ou non, ne pourront remplacer ce corps à moins de le trahir.
Ce vide, nous ne le découvrons pas seul. Il y a toujours quelqu’un avant nous pour nous le dire, une femme la première. Mais nous le constatons aussi. Nous le vivons terriblement. Nous voilà bien seuls. Ce vide, aussi, nous met en route. Une course même. Et pourquoi donc courir ? Nostalgie d’une relique qui aurait échappé et que l’on voudrait rattraper s’il est temps ? La course ne s’arrête pas au tombeau. On en repart hanté par la quête de ce Jésus dont les paroles brûlent le cœur dès lors que l’on accepte de les écouter, dont la vie nous appelle à changer de vie, pour peu qu’on prenne ce qui en est raconté au sérieux.
On parvient au seuil du tombeau, vide, non parce qu’on visiterait les cimetières, par hasard ou maladie, mais parce que l’enseignement de Jésus ouvre à l’humanité un chemin de vie. Alors on le cherche et l’on passe par sa tombe. La mort de Jésus ne renverse pas tout, demeure la vérité d’une attente pour le monde, celle qu’il a vécue.
L’apologétique, l’institution, la tradition, la foi de nos pères, les bonnes raisons de croire ne font plus sens. Elles sont aussi justes qu’elles peuvent être démoniaques, au service du mal. Elles ne rendent jamais compte de la foi, tout juste la sortent-elles de l’irrationnel. Elles risquent de n’être que de piètres et vains substituts au corps disparus. Ce corps, c’est désormais les frères qu’il faut servir. Il faut au plus vite quitter le tombeau pour servir les siens, son corps à soigner, à veiller, à honorer.
Et lorsque nous sommes en contradiction avec sa vie, nous sommes récupérés par une issue plus béante encore que le tombeau. Le mal en nos vies, même ineffaçable, ne dit pas le dernier mot de ces vies, parce qu’il nous aime. Son amour donne à nos vies le poids qu’elles n’ont pas d’avoir frayé avec le mal et la mort.
Voilà, ce Jésus nous attache à lui. Voilà, ce Jésus nous tient. Tous les dogmes peuvent voler en éclat, ne plus faire sens, mais ce Jésus nous tient, non comme une idée, mais comme un vivant, un ami. Nous n’avons rien d’autre à dire quand il faut expliquer pourquoi nous sommes aujourd’hui ses disciples, pourquoi nous le disons vivant. Nous sommes tenus. Rien ne garantit que ce ne soit illusion, superstition, si ce n’est que cela met nos vies en forme de la sienne, au service des siens.



We are at a loss to explain why we still follow today a man who died nearly 2,000 years ago, especially if the reason we give ourselves (and others) to do this thing is that he is alive. What does it mean to say that he is alive? If it is merely a phrase learned in some catechism, if it is only a "doctrine", an "ideology", then it is obvious that, by itself, it cannot make the dead alive and make the proposition that he is alive be true. No one is alive after his death. No formula and no text can make that sort of thing come true, however "authorized" it claims itself to be. How then, do we live with that weird sort of aliveness?
Some of the disciples end up thinking nothing anymore of the official claims of their faith [They accept the formulas without questioning them so as not to have to deal with the question this might raise anew for them]. These sorts of believers are more numerous than one may think, especially if we do not immediately treat as unbelievers those who do not pay lip service to the orthodoxy of mere words, those who are not at one (like fish in water) with the institutional church, its rites and its doctrines.
Thomas Aquinas, whose thought has been a reference in Catholicism for a number of centuries now (but who started up in fact by being condemned --or at least some of his ideas), writes that faith does not stop at what it enunciates, but aims at what this statement of faith points to.
EXAMPLE 1 (ST 2a 2ae, q. 11, a. 1, resp.): "Whoever believes, assents to someone's words; so that, in every form of unbelief, the person to whose words assent is given seems to hold the chief place and to be the end as it were; while the things by holding which one assents to that person hold a secondary place."
EXAMPLE 2 (ST 2a 2ae, q, 1, a 2, ad 2um): "The symbol mentions the things about which faith is, in so far as the act of the believer is terminated in them, as is evident from the manner of speaking about them. Now the act of the believer does not terminate in a proposition, but in a thing. For as in science we do not form propositions, except in order to have knowledge about things through their means, so is it in faith."
What do we say, what do we experience and what do we believe deep down in ourselves when we say that Jesus is risen, and that he is alive? Relying on the four Gospels, what we experience first, in a brutal and an abrupt manner, is a void. The tomb is empty, the body is not there. We will not be able to attach ourselves to it like one does to a relic [or to the tomb of one’s ancestors --However Antigone like Mary Magdala wanted to be, there is no body of her Rabbouni to annoint and venerate]. Whatever propositions we choose to believe in (however "orthodox" or "non orthodox" they may be) will not be able to make Jesus’ remains any more material for us to grasp, and we will again be left today with an empty tomb, just as the first witness were 2000 years ago. And the only way to make this untrue is if our mode of believing in the resurrection amounts to betraying what the Christian belief in the empty tomb is supposed to mean [that is: the gap through which one must pass over to get on the other side of things, and view the world differently, having been con-verted].
Second point, this emptiness of the tomb, we do not discover it alone. There is always someone there before us to tell us about their experience. In the first instance, it was a woman, Mary Magdala. And we too experience the same "noli me tangere" that this apostle to the apostles was first to experience. And like her, we experience it rather painfully and terribly. We are very much left to our own device, here. Yet this very emptiness also sets us on the road. On a race even. And why run? Because of some nostalgia for a relic that has escaped our grasp and that we would like to catch back if there was still time [by finally finding a proof, for instance, that the Turin shroud is true, or by writing a 700 page book on why belief in the resurrection is rationally plausible]? The race does not stop at the tomb. We are left haunted by the quest of this Jesus whose words have burned our hearts the minute we accepted to listen to them, by the quest of this Jesus whose life calls us to change our own, if we take seriously what is being told about it.
One arrives at the threshold of the tomb, empty, not in the way that one comes to visit a cemetery (i.e. : by chance or by melancholy), but because the teaching of Jesus opens our humanity to a different way of life, one that passes over death by walking through such a tomb. So we look up for him and cannot help having to go through his grave. The death of Jesus does not overthrow everything, his life remains that of an expectation for a better world, the Kingdom of God, the one he has lived for all his life.
[Confronted with that tomb] all the apologetics, the institution, the tradition, the faith of our fathers, the good reasons to believe are no longer meaningful. As mere formulas. they can be put to a righteous use or they can become demonic, i.e.: at the service of evil. They never report on faith itself. At best they put words on something that is eminently infra-rational. They are likely to only be poor and vain substitutes for the vanished body. For that body, which we are so inclined to seek in relics and in formulas, its real presence is to be found in the neighbours to serve, in the brothers to serve. If one really wants to find Christ's body, it is necessary to leave the tomb as soon as possible and go serve his people, for that is where his body is. That is his body to heal, his body to contemplate, and his body to honour and worship.
And when we are in contradiction with Christ's life, we are recovered by an even more gaping wound than the tomb that allows us to pass-over through it. For the evils in our lives, even the most un-erasable ones, does not say the last word of our lives, because he loves us. His love gives our lives the weight they would not have on their own, so that we can be set straight again to fight the good fight against evil and death in all their forms.
And this is how that very same Jesus who told us not to grasp him at the tomb ("Noli me tangere"), and made his tomb empty to make sure we would not worship him like some ancestral deities of old, ultimately binds us to himself [rather than letting himself be grasped by us and bound to us]. It is no longer us who tries to hold him but him who shows his hold upon us. All the dogmas can be blown into pieces and no longer make sense to us, but this Jesus now holds us, not as an idea, but as a living man, a friend. We therefore have nothing else to say when it is necessary to explain why we are still his disciples, why we claim him to be alive. We are beheld to say that. And though there is no guarantee that this is not an illusion and a superstition, it still has the effect of putting our lives in the shape of his own and set us more to the service of others than we would have been on our own, those "others" whom he claims as his own kind, mankind.
translate by JF Garneau

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