Triduum Sacrum: Pascha I
Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; Luke 24:1-12
Fire destroyed palm branches forty days ago whose ashes reminded us of our mortality.
We each will die.
Ancient charred timbers from the roof of La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
are piled against the altar like large ashen cinders.
The cathedral, engulfed by fire, reminds us of the fragility of life.
Nothing lasts forever.
Fierce fire and smoke as from a dragon vied with the setting sun over Paris
gave way to a great beauty of orange – red Pentecostal flame
against the darkened night sky and shadows of stained glass tracery.
Fire fractured the darkness of this night to proclaim Christ our Light.
In our time of anxiety, of ugliness, hatred and lies, the fire that engulfed Notre Dame is ominous. Yet we are reminded by the Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, fire is also mystical, “What is to give light must endure burning”. Palm branches, age – old cathedrals, candles, frightened disciples behind locked doors, our fears.
The destruction of beauty is overwhelmingly sad. We assume that things will last forever because they have lasted. Notre Dame wasn’t supposed to burn. Was Christ supposed to die? Yet he calls us to daily take up our cross and die.
Like the cross that shown in the darkness of the apse of the cathedral hanging over the Pietà. Notre Dame, Our Lady, holds her dead son. Like the wounds of Christ, Notre Dame will bear her gaping voids in the ceiling of the nave. Like the dead Christ who is defiantly alive, Notre Dame will defiantly rise to live a new life.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s defiant act against death. Destroying death by death itself, it is life beyond anything we can ever imagine.
We Christians are a people who know sadness and suffering and yet live in hope. It is only through faith, which does not need our buildings, that we continue to live with others and for others, like firefighters who so unnaturally rush into a building on fire to save it.
This deep selfless love cannot burn away. It bursts into the flame of eternal life.