Words of Past Experience

You Did It to Me (1958)

François Mauriac (1885-1970) - Bordeaux and Paris, France


The following text is excerpted from Le Fils de l'Homme (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1958) as translated by Bernard Murchland (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1960). The text appears on pages 60-63 of Murchland's edition.



Christians believe that the risen Christ did not leave the world. Paul saw Him, in the literal sense of the word. And in other ways Christ has shown Himself in the course of the centuries to many saints, to the simple faithful, and even to the unbaptized, like Simone Weil. But the greatest number have not seen and have believed: we believe that Christ is actually living. This is indeed the "Christian folly."


What evidence do those who believe that Christ is living and who nevertheless have not seen Him have for affirming the absurd? Whence comes this conviction? How does this presence manifest itself in a life? In the beginning, certainly, there is an act of faith in a revealed word confirmed by interior experience. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you." This living peace is not a trap: the Christian knows it and lives it. It is linked to the state of grace which, as long as we remain in it, verifies the fulfillment of the promise: 'If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him." Above all, the Christian can, if he is a Catholic, avail himself each day of that morsel of bread about which the Lord pronounced the words so foolish ("I am the living bread...") that the disciples murmered and, Saint John tells us, many of those who heard them no longer wanted to follow Him. Yet for over two thousand years generations of faithful have lived on this bread that was broken and multiplied for them.


The living Christ also gives Himself to those who do not believe or who scoff at this folly and hate it, provided they are worthy of Him. For Christ identified Himself with the hungry man to whom we give something to eat or whom we refuse. "I am this hungry man; I am this stranger; I am this man in prison whom you visited or tortured."


Each one of us ought to reread chapter twenty-five of the Gospel according to Matthew. "As long as you did it for one of these my least brethren, you did it for me." This is the sacrament of those who serve Christ without knowing Him and who love Him in their brothers. We must always come back to the words of Saint John of the Cross: "In the evening of life, we will be judged on love." Indeed, Love Itself will be our Judge.