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Christ’s resurrection rises above all

On this Easter Sunday, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection, a sense of sorrow also prevails, due to Monday’s devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, described by the Vatican as the symbol of Christianity in France and a great symbol of Christianity in the world.

During this commemoration of Jesus’ victory over death, members of the world’s Jewish community, who currently are in the midst of their Passover observance, also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, are no doubt sorrowful as well over the destruction to Paris’ religious landmark, home to some of Christianity’s most significant and treasured artwork and holy objects.

Among the treasured objects is a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, a central object of Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday.

Many people around the world today are harboring the belief that the Hand of God was instrumental in the recovery of the revered, priceless items housed within the walls of the great cathedral amid such a conflagration, as well as in guiding the hundreds of firefighters in mustering their superior skills to prevent much greater destruction.

Meanwhile, Christians who will be celebrating Easter next Sunday under the Julian calendar, will be spending some of the coming week reflecting not only on the Biblical teachings surrounding Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, but also on the tragedy in Paris coming so close to Christianity’s holiest time of the year.

Religious teachings in regard to Easter emphasize the point that in order for today’s joy to have become possible, Jesus had to experience what Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown described in his 2018 Easter message as “the most dreaded human experience: death.”

During that message last year, the bishop went on to say:

“The impact of the loss of a loved one is often felt in a profound way when the final prayers are said at the cemetery. At that moment, we often feel an emptiness and we find it hard to make sense of death and what it means.

“The empty tomb discovered by Mary Magdalene and the other disciples was not proof of the Resurrection, but a fact whose meaning needed to be discovered. They were as bewildered and grief-stricken as anyone who has lost a loved one. The meaning of the empty tomb did not become clear until the disciples experienced the risen Lord in person.”

Enveloping ongoing thoughts and prayers emanating from Monday’s horrific event are feelings of emptiness, especially among the millions of people who have visited the Paris cathedral as one of their most important stops overseas. Grief persists amid today’s appreciation and thankfulness of Christ having conquered death for the salvation of mankind.

Children will relish the fun part of today’s holiday — the Easter bunny, their Easter baskets full of candy, perhaps having participated in a community Easter egg hunt, dressing up in new clothing for church services, an Easter meal or other activities.

But parents and guardians should try to explain to them the deeper, more profound meaning of this wonderful holiday.

This year, parents should try to find the right, comforting words to explain how an event so horrendous could seemingly tarnish what is being observed today.

But, in reality, the greatness of Easter isn’t tarnished. Christ’s resurrection rises above all that is not right and good. That’s the most important acknowledgment for this important day.

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