What can happen at Notre Dame

The message of the president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, pastor Luca Maria Negro

Foto Wikimedia Commons

Rome (NEV), April 23, 2019 – We publish a brief meditation written by the president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), pastor Luca Maria Negro, the day after the fire that struck the cathedral of Paris.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will God not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?’ or “What will we drink?’ or “What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed, your God knows that you need all these things. But strive first for God’s will and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

Matthew 6:26-33

The Bible invites us to reflect on the fragility and beauty of human life. Today we turn our attention to the flames and smoke and the collapsed tower of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and to the unease its destruction has caused in our thoughts.

The fire that raged in the Cathedral of Notre Dame damaged not only a part of French culture and art but also, symbolically, the entire country of France and, indeed, not just France. Notre Dame is for many a symbol of Christianity, to the extent, at least, that Christianity can be understood as belonging to a particular physical place. More broadly, Notre Dame is a special symbol in our collective human treasure of history and beauty.

So, it makes sense that, during and after the fire, Christian sisters and brothers knelt in prayer in front of the cathedral. At the same time, they and we should remember that the Bible tells us to raise our sights a little higher. In every aspect of life, the Bible reminds us not to be anxious about anything because God provides.

Along with buildings and works of art, fire can destroy hopes, people, community and shared memory. When disaster strikes, we need to refocus our attention on each other’s humanity and on the love that holds us together. Hate, fear, slavery, war, prejudice and verbal and physical violence are a devouring fire. Love, civic courage, civil responsibility, social engagement, and solidarity with sisters and brothers are the real keys to rebuilding anything that has been destroyed. This kind of resurrection is part of what we as Christians celebrate with gratitude in this time of Easter.