By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 4/2019
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” — John 2:19
Years ago, when I worked for Honeywell-Bull, I traveled to our parent company in France to do some software work and meet the team there. During the brief non-work hours and one weekend, I visited Louveciennes, Versailles, Angers, and Paris. It was awe-inspiring for a kid from Dorchester to walk the streets of these historic cities.
Unfortunately, I never got to visit Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Last Monday, people worldwide watched the massive fire engulf Notre Dame.
A steeple collapsed, the flames were massive; the fire and smoke damage everywhere.
BUT THE CHURCH STILL STANDS.
The fire started Monday of Holy Week, when Christians around the world commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The timing of this horrific fire (Holy Week) may seem like a cruel coincidence. And as Catholic and Christian I more than understand the importance of a church building – large or small — to its faithful. The loss is too much for many to bear. It’s unimaginable and people’s hearts are broken. For many, it’s a knife to the very soul. Some people will never be the same.
And while this is a disaster and tragedy in every sense of the word, a loss too deep for words, I would suggest to all Christians that we consider our own teachings and the words of the scripture to find some comfort and hope in all of this.
At this writing we do not yet know the cause of the fire, accident or deliberate. And I want to VERY clear, I am *not* saying God is starting fires to give us a wake-up call. I am NOT saying that. But… accident or arson (and I pray it wasn’t the latter), the fire happened during Holy Week.
In no way mitigating what has happened, we can, as Christians, see this as a visceral, tangible reminder of the destruction of the true temple (Jesus) two thousand years ago – and His resurrection on the third day. The temple, destroyed, rebuilt in glory.
The officials and angry mob that crucified Jesus FAILED. He rose from the dead. And 2000 years later during the week we remember that miracle and the birth of the Church, a 900 year old iconic cathedral burns. We don’t know why. It’s unfathomable. But it has happened, and now… the Church rises again.
Consider all the people in France surrounding the scene, praying and singing hymns as the firefighters ran into the inferno. Consider the outpouring of support worldwide, and financial help already being sent to Paris.
And I keep thinking of the words of Jesus: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Words echoed back at the Lord during the Passion Gospel we all heard at church on Palm Sunday. The day before the fire.
The church still stands. It always will.
Notre Dame WILL be rebuilt. It will likely take years – but it WILL be raised again. Too many of His followers will ensure it will be so.
So please… Please pray for the people of Paris and all affected by this loss, and for a church so very troubled in this day and age. Please donate to the rebuild fundraisers if you are able to do so.
May God heal the broken hearts around the world, and heal those injured fighting the blaze.
May Notre Dame be restored to its glory to continue to be the spiritual home to millions.
And may we people of faith take this moment to remember that a Church is not a building – it is the people, the faithful.. WE are the Church – and at this Easter time, this Holy Week in 2019, we bore witness to a metaphorical and literal attack on our faith – yet the Church still stands and will be restored to greater glory – just as it was 2000 years ago in His resurrection.
Because that’s the promise fulfilled. From death – LIFE, and salvation.
Incendie Notre Dame de Paris; image by LeLaisserPasserA38.
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