A few days ago, I watched in sadness with our global community as a fire raged through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  I visited that church about 20 years ago and can still connect to the humility I felt in its grandeur, architecture, and sanctity.  While horrified watching the blaze on the news, I felt bonded to my fellow citizens across the globe: some who stood together near the scene; others who took to singing hymns like Ave Maria, and all of us who hoped and prayed for a miracle to stop the flames from completely destroying the entire structure and its numerous irreplaceable contents of historical and religious significance.  

 

Though there is much to rebuild, and priceless pieces of art and relics are lost forever, over 400 firefighters and numerous public servants struggled to stop the 9-hour fire.  We are grateful to still have much of the building including the twin bell towers, rose windows, the flying buttresses, and many other iconic symbols of “Notre Dame-Our Lady.”  

 

As is often the case in the midst of tragedy, more and more stories of cooperation, bravery, generosity, and triumph of the divine and human spirit are emerging.  For example, several citizens and a fire department chaplain jumped in to form a human chain to save treasures like the “Crown of Thorns” (a wreath of thorns believed to be the one placed on the head of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion) and “Blessed Sacrament” (items used during church services to represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ).  Images of the golden altar cross glowing amidst the smoke inside the Cathedral have circulated the internet as a strong symbol of hope in the face of destruction.  In addition, within 24 hours of the fire, more than $600 million dollars had been already been pledged or raised for restoration efforts by French citizens and various other regional and global campaigns.

 

Easter or Resurrection Sunday is this coming Sunday, April 21, 2019.  Many have remarked that the timing of the Notre Dame fire hurts more deeply due to its proximity to this Holy Week.  On this day, Christians believe a miraculous event, the Resurrection of Christ, occurred and is described in all four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.  On this day, Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified three days prior.  Jesus lived a perfect life and paid for our sins through his death on a cross, so that we can live a life of eternity by accepting Him. As noted in Matthew 20: 17-19…

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life.”

 

May our hearts and minds be reminded of the power of resurrection after fire, the presence of hope in the midst of real tragedy, and the ability of the human spirit to rise and recreate when disaster strikes.  We weep with the French as they mourn what was lost and rejoice in the miracle that much still remains.

 

References

CBS News.com. (April 16, 2019).  A brave chaplain and a human chain saved relics from Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/notre-dame-cathedral-fire-heroes-human-chain-crown-of-thorns-blessed-sacrament/

 

Dobuzinskis, A. (April 15, 2019).  Americans, frequent visitors to Notre Dame, begin fundraising efforts.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-notredame-fundraising/americans-frequent-visitors-to-notre-dame-begin-fundraising-efforts-idUSKCN1RS01T

 

Hignett, K.  (April 16, 2019).  Notre Dame ‘Miracle’? Rose Windows’ stained glass appears to have survived the savage blaze.

 

Serafino, P.  (April 16, 2019).  Rival French billionaires pledge nearly $600 million to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. 

http://fortune.com/2019/04/16/notre-dame-cathedral-fire-donation-rebuild/

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