As we look with shock and sadness at the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral, we give thanks for the generosity of so many who have come forward with generous pledges of cash to rebuild and restore this heritage site, and to put into focus all that this building signifies.

Would it not be an even more wonderful gesture if for every Euro pledged, an equal amount could be given for the welfare of the living “temples of God” – the poor and most abandoned?

We recall the words of Saint Eugene de Mazenod in his first recorded sermon to the poor of Aix en Provence:

let your eyes see for once beneath the rags that cover you, there is within you an immortal soul made in the image of God whom it is destined to possess one day, a soul ransomed at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ, more precious in the eyes of God than all earth’s riches, than all the kingdoms of the earth, a soul of which he is more jealous than of the government of the entire universe.

Notes for the first instruction in the Church of the Madeleine  EO XV n. 114

How powerful it could be if the restoration of this priceless treasure could become a monument not only to its religious, historic and artistic significance, but also a monument to the generosity of millions who have given an equal amount to renovate the dignity and livelihood of the poor and abandoned – created in the image and likeness of God and in whom we are invited to bring to life the Gospel promise: “Whatsoever you do to one of the least of these, you do it to me.”

A foolish naive dream? Or is there someone out there capable of making this happen?

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