Father James Martin: Where was God when Notre Dame was in flames?

Last week’s heartbreaking fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris seemed to bring the world together in stunned grief. And coming at the beginning of Holy Week, when Christians worldwide mark the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the symbolism was almost too much to bear. I confess that I wept when I watched this ancient church be consumed by fire.

As the smoke poured from the medieval stone cathedral, flames leapt from the wooden roof and, in perhaps the most terrible moment, the ornate metal spire collapsed like a cinder, it was hard for many of us not to think of the suffering and death of Jesus. During his public crucifixion, just as yesterday, crowds of people looked on in horror—feeling powerless, overcome with grief and wondering what they could possibly do.

Among those people was Jesus’ mother, Our Lady: Notre Dame. Our Lady knows exactly what it is like to stand by and see someone you love suffer and die.

But Our Lady also knew that, somehow, God was with her in that time of grief. But we could well ask: Where was God yesterday in Paris?

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