Acts 10:34A, 37-43
Peter began to speak to them: “You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
I Corinthians 5:6B-8
Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes
Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
On Ash Wednesday, we bore the sign of the cross on our foreheads and vowed to be faithful to the Gospel and do penance. Then after our personal purifications, we were shocked to witness a terrible inferno sweeping through Notre Dame Cathedral.
Deemed an accident, even unbelievers could see that what happened at the Cathedral on Monday of Holy Week was not really an accident. Lent began with ashes and God allowed it to end in ashes.
Believers joined in prayer, fearing the loss of the precious building and the wonderful things within it.
The stone masonry withstood the disaster and as fire burned away wood from stone, like dross from metal, and wheat from chaff. We recall the Lord’s words: “On this rock I will build my Church” – Matt 16:18. “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” - Matt 3:12.
We rejoiced when we saw the inventory of the saved: The Blessed Sacrament, the Crown of Thorns, the irreplaceable relics of the holy cross and thorns, uncorrupted things that, like radiation, still exude holy power, then the ancient and priceless works of art, the images created to give glory to God alone in unmatched beauty such as the glorious stained glass and art works. All these were saved: the altar, the cross, and the altar candles, to remind us of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees, “For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” - Matt 23:19.
A metal rooster from the spire symbolizing Peter’s denial, had bounced to safety. The organ, also called the lungs of a church, was saved as well. We remember that we who love the Lord often deny him when we lose faith and fail to pray and that we are made to worship God and sing his praises.
As we proceeded through Holy Week, we meditated on the mystery of our salvation, the Paschal mystery. God will allow destruction of the body for the salvation of the soul. God allowed Jesus’ body to be destroyed, and our buildings and our personal temples will also, one day be destroyed. Our penance separates us from all that will not withstand our own personal trial.
Mary Magdalene was comforted when she came to the tomb no less than we are at our own hope in heaven that every tear will be dried. Jesus overcame the power of death and we no longer have to fear. All the sorrow we experience in life will be gone. Mourning and weeping will flee.
God allowed the Cathedral of Notre Dame to burn and God allowed Jesus’ body to be destroyed. So too will our personal temples be destroyed. But God can raise them up again if our foundation is set in stone.
What do we treasure in our hearts that can withstand the fire that is coming to test the earth? Like the altar, the cross and the candles, do we carry the cross of Christ, possess the altar of sacrifice, and the light of Christ in our hearts? And as with the Blessed Sacrament, the crown of thorns and the beautiful artworks, do we feast on the Eucharist, worship the King and live to glorify God?
Jesus is risen! Our grief has turned to joy that He is with us and for the awakening that it hails for new life in the world. Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!