Profession, not Possession
Like many of you, I sat in horror and watch flames engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral this past Monday. This venerable masterpiece of Gothic architecture was in danger of burning to the ground. Notre Dame is home to some venerated artifacts, including an alleged piece of Jesus’ cross, and the sup-posed crown of thorns worn by Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. The church is also home to some wonderful art and gorgeous stained-glass windows.
When the dust started clearing on Tuesday morning, we were relieved to learn that there was very little loss to the contents of the cathedral. The magnificent spire and the roof were gone, there was damage in only part of the building, and the most treasured of the artifacts survived the blaze. The most profound image is that of the sanctuary cross. In spite of the heartache and destruction, the cross still stands! (Editor’s note: You can find many copyrighted photos of the surviving cross on the web. An original image is featured here.)
As beautiful as Notre Dame is, as horrible a tragedy that this might be, the most important thing to remember is this: The Notre Dame Cathedral is a building. It is a mere possession of the Church, and it is far, far inferior to the profession of the Church. This is what the cross of that beautiful cathedral reminded me of on Tuesday morning. Things come and go, but Christ is forever.
“Jesus … asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Matthew 16:13-18.
As we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday, remember, church is about being the people of God who profess faith in the Son of God, the one died and yet lives. Against such a profession, nothing can stand; not fire, not destruction, not death, nothing.
(Featured Images and Licensing Courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cathedrale_Notre-Dame_de_Paris_maitre-autel.jpg)