A massive fire ferociously devastated partially Notre Dame in Paris last Monday destroying the 850-year-old cathedral’s iconic spire and roof. With its collapse, the city’s skyline had been altered and a powerful symbol of Catholicism gone in matter of minutes. As firefighters battled the blaze, Parisians gathered outside in tears, many raising their voices in prayer with the feeling that the very heart of the country had stopped momentarily. Notre Dame has been the symbol of France. French author Bernard-Henri Levy noted that more than a house of worship “it’s the symbol of French culture, architecture and history.” Many were just shocked silently because as one onlooker said: “Paris without Notre Dame is madness.”
As soon as the horrific fire had been extinguished, French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to promise. “We will rebuild Notre-Dame because that’s what our history deserves, because that is our destiny.” Many companies and business tycoons too have pledge their support to restore one of its defining icons. I am struck that many around the world were moved by the burning of Notre Dame. Many found a connection to this icon that captures beauty, faith, art and history. What really built this cathedral was more than money. It was built by the faith of the French people. And if it has to be properly restored, they need to return to the original faith that built it. It is this faith that causes one to look up, to wonder and to worship. It is faith that makes us rise from the ashes.
The timing of the cathedral burning cannot be overlooked. It happened during the Holy Week. Notre Dame has stood above Paris for centuries. It is a masterpiece of gothic architecture with thirteen million visitors annually. What Parisians considered a permanent icon is now in ruins. Nothing is ever permanent. Earthly treasures never last. But there is a permanent lesson we can learn from the events of the Holy Week that stretches far beyond history. Because of his resurrection, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. As G. K. Chesterton wrote “Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” And should we aspire for permanence and eternal life, Jesus has the answer.
Happy Easter everyone!