At a Mass said for the victims of Tuesday’s church attack in France, the Archbishop of Paris appealed for hope as he remembered Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed by two Islamic State terrorists as he was celebrating the Eucharist.
At the July 27 Mass for the victims of Saint-Étienne du Rouvray said at Notre Dame de Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois recalled the words of one of the readings of the day from the prophet Jeremiah: “Would you be a mirage for me, like doubtful waters?”
“In this terrible time we’re going through, how can we make our own this cry to God of the prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of attacks of which he was the object? How can we not turn against God and not demand an account from him?” the cardinal reflected.
He also said that to cry out to to the Lord “is not to lack faith in God. It is, on the contrary, to continue to speak to him and to call upon him in the precise moment when events seem to call into question his power and his love. It is to continue to affirm our faith in him, our trust in the Face of love and mercy he has shown in his son Jesus Christ.”
“Those who wrap themselves in the trappings of religion to mask their deadly project, those who want to proclaim to us a God of death, a Moloch who would rejoice in the death of a man and who would promise paradise to those who kill while invoking him, those people cannot expect humanity to yield to their mirage.”
In his homily, Cardinal Vingt-Trois recalled that “the hope written by God on the heart of man has a name: it is called life. Hope has a face, the face of Christ giving his life in sacrifice so that men may have life in abundance.”
“Hope has a project, the project of gathering humanity into one people, not by extermination but by conviction and by the call to freedom. It is this hope in the midst of trial that forever blocks for us the path to despair, vengeance, and death.”
For the cardinal “it’s this hope that animated the ministry of Father Jacques Hamel when he celebrated the Eucharist, during which he was savagely executed. It is this hope that sustains the Christians in the Middle East when they have to flee in the face of persecution and they choose to leave everything behind rather than renounce their faith.”
Referring to World Youth Day being held in Poland, the cardinal also said that “it is this hope that dwells in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of young people gathered around Pope Francis in Krakow. It’s this hope to allows us to not succumb to hatred when we are caught up in the storm.”
“It is this conviction that was savagely wounded at Saint-Étienne du Rouvray, and it is thanks to this conviction that we can resist the temptation to nihilism and a taste for death. It is thanks to this conviction that we refuse to become delirious with conspiracy theories and allow our society become gangrenous with the virus of suspicion.”
“Where shall we find the strength to face dangers if we cannot rely on hope?” he then asked.
Finally, the Archbishop of Paris emphasized that “for we who believe in the God of Jesus Christ, this hope is trusting in the word of God as the prophet Jeremiah received it and relayed it: ‘Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, for I am with you,to save and rescue you. I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked, and ransom you from the power of the violent.’”
Fr. Hamel was killed July 26 after two armed gunmen stormed a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy during Mass.
The assailants entered the church and took the celebrating priest and four others hostage.
Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police.
The French bishops designated July 29 as a day of fasting following the attack.
Fr. Hamel, who was 86, was ordained a priest in 1958. His funeral Mass will be said Aug. 2 in the cathedral of Rouen.