God’s Great Rescue Plan
A Homily from the Readings for the Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time (Gen 9:1-13 – Mark 8:27-33)
(Internet Image from HD Wallpaper)
Editor’s Note: Due to scheduling conflicts today’s Gospel Reflection has been replaced with a homily from Dcn. Mark Mueller. Enjoy!
The Ark - A Cute Bedtime Story?
The story of Noah is often treated as a cute children’s story. In every child’s Bible, there are pictures of the Ark with Noah opening the doors to let in, or out, all the animals two-by-two. Yet, there is something very serious going on. In the first reading today from Genesis, we hear the pleasing part of the story as creation begins again. Yet, what we are seeing is just the beginning of God’s great rescue mission. It is a rescue of not just humanity, but all earthly creation. It is a rescue mission in which we, like Noah, have a part to play.
At the beginning of the flood narrative, we hear why God has decided to recreate the earth. Man has rejected the law of God, a process begun with Adam and Eve, and abused freedom with extreme depravity. In Genesis we read,
“When the LORD saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil, the LORD regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.” (Genesis 6:5–6 NABRE)
Humanity’s complete rejection of God is so profound that evil has tainted every aspect of creation. The result is a return to chaos. The situation calls for purification and a new beginning. Scripture is offering us, in the Flood an impressive lesson about the destiny of mankind when we turn our back on God and reject the laws that are stamped on creation itself. God is never happy to just watch evil run its course and so, we read the story of the Great Flood and of Noah and the Ark.
Noah constructs the Ark to God’s specifications. It is built of sturdy timbers and is sealed with pitch against the waters that are about to inundate creation. Noah had to have looked like an utter fool building an ark nowhere near a sea. But what the world sees as foolishness; the faithful following God’s plan, know to be wisdom. Noah then loads the zoo, the animals, with which the world will be recreated into the Ark. Then, the water comes, invading the land in full force. It always seemed interesting to me that as the rains fell that there was no repentance on the part of the people outside of Noah’s family. The evil was so great, so insidius, that the people could not recognize salvation when it was right in front of them.
The Great Rescue Plan
Only when evil is completely eradicated, do the waters, chaos, recede and the doors of the Ark once again open. And, with the words we hear today; “Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it,” (Genesis 9:1) creation begins again, and we hear of a New Covenant with mankind. This covenant with God, the first of several, culminates at the last Supper with the Lord’s words, “this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26: 27-28) For the rescue mission begun with the Flood, will find its completion in Christ.
Today, in the Gospel, we hear Peter’s response to the Lord’s question, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). St Peter responds, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29) Like Noah, St Peter recognizes God and salvation even when it seems that all around Him cannot. Yet even St Peter recoils at the lengths to which God is willing to go in order to save humanity. It seems that St Peter would like a new flood. But God, in His great patience, His great and unending love and mercy, has promised to no longer recreate the world by its destruction. God intends to redeem it instead. Jesus tells the disciples,
“the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” (Mark 8:31)
At Peter’s rebuke of God’s plan for salvation, the Lord tells Peter, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8:33)
In the readings today, we stand within the safety of the Ark, the Church, the bark of Peter. It is a ship that rides above the waves of the culture of death which pervades the world. The timbers of the Ark have been sealed against the evil of the world with timbers of prayer and sacrifice and the pitch of Christ’s body and blood. It is a place of sanctuary, where every Christian can be healed from sin and fortified through the Sacraments. Yet, it is not a place of hiding. It is the place from which Christ, carried in the faithful, must come forth from open doors. It is the place from which God’s rescue operation constantly enters the World so that all humanity might enter the Ark and be saved from the evil and chaos which still pervades the world. Christ and His Church has been dropped, as CS Lewis writes, behind enemy lines, such that the world can be saved.
St Paul tells us to, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:14). We are called to enter the ark and be saved, healed, and nourished but, not to stay there. We cannot be afraid of the deprivation of our flesh. The door of the Ark is open, and we must go back out as Christ into the world, so that the world may be saved and recreated. We hear God’s plan in the book of Revelation; “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5 NABRE)
This, “making all things new,” is the culmination of God’s rescue plan that began with the flood, is enacted on the cross, and promulgated through Christ and His Church in the world. We, you and I, are part of that plan and must do our part. The lives of so many, swimming away from the ark, in a culture of chaos and sin, are at stake. We are called to announce as did Peter, Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the life ring, the Ark is open, come in!
“HD Wallpaper: Noah's Ark Painting, Animals, People, Rainbow, Art, Salvation.” HD Wallpaper: Noah's Ark Painting, Animals, People, Rainbow, Art, Salvation | Wallpaper Flare, Wallpaper Flare, https://www.wallpaperflare.com/noah-s-ark-painting-animals-people-rainbow-art-salvation-wallpaper-ssaii.
New American Bible. Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011. Print.
A very thought provoking and powerful article on the nature of evil and how we can find shelter in Jesus. Thank you for this uplifting piece.
Fantastic! Thank you, thank you , thank you!!!!