This Holy Week started with the heartbreaking images of the flames consuming the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The fire at the 850 year old structure captured the headlines and the attention of the world. As the world watched in horror, some bemoaned the forever-lost art while others the state of the Church in France symbolized by the apocalyptic sight. The fire for them is the sad commentary on the condition of the “Oldest Daughter of the Church” who has walked away from its Christian roots as about only 5% of the population is practicing Catholics.
While the images of the fire horrified the audiences around the world, the images from the day after can help us cope and even be inspired. For the humanists and art lovers, the images of the saved stone structure of the cathedral, the artifacts rescued from the burning building, and the few rosette stain glass windows which were left intact will sooth to some degree the feelings of loss. For the believers who feel like the Church is dying, the soothing comes from the image of the intact main altar with its pieta and the cross. Especially, the image of the gleaming cross in the sea of ashes should inspire us all to hope. The cross of the Cathedral of Notre Dame which shines like a beacon of hope is a reminder that God can turn any tragedy into victory. It points to the reality beyond itself which we celebrate today – the triumph of Christ over sin and death. Because Christ rose from the dead, the cross is the sign of hope and new life. What better invitation to hope than the gleaming cross in the midst of the rubble? What better way to think of Christ’s victory than the cross shining in the night of charred wood and melted metal? What better way to be reminded of the triumph of Christ who hung on the cross?
I hope this image of the cross raised above soot and rubble will inspire us to celebrate Easter with great hope, trust and joy. I hope we find comfort in the mystery of the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the cornerstone of our faith and the proof that all the claims that Jesus made about himself are true. I hope we feel encouraged to practice the teaching of Jesus which the resurrection proved true and trustworthy.
May the cross from Notre Dame remind us that “Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is truly risen! Alleluia!” And may the presence of the Risen Christ, fill your heart with hope, peace and joy!