God's Tears 

In the generations following humankind, expulsion from Eden's garden, famine, restlessness, and death characterize the human condition. Humanity repeatedly acts on its nearby rebellious impulse. Life expectancy recedes from eternity to something finite. Cain jealously resents the graces Abel enjoys and sets out with more deceit to murder his brother, again absolving himself of any individual culpability.[1] Noah merely reaches six hundred years of age before God acted to cleanse the earth of societal contamination and prolonged broken covenant.[2]  The great flood story evolved into a composite narrative derived from both Yahwistic and Priestly sources; hence, literalists should expect slight inconsistencies when reading the story .

Sacred Marriage and family survived the flood, but the uncontrolled sexual urges of celestial creatures provoked God's regret and wrath.[3] The Lord said to Noah, "I have decided to put an end to all mortals on earth; the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So, I will destroy them and all life on earth." [4] The Creator's water intervention acted from out of the depth that exploitive stewardship had permitted the earth to degrade. God washed the earth, but not the people. The Lord's actions intended in some way to depress a sacramental reboot exempting only Marriage and family life from destruction. Marriage and family were too precious and even indissoluble, therefore,  these endured cocooned within the ark's protection. In God's merciful nature, restoration always takes precedence over destruction.  

Fledgling creation repeatedly produces ample evidence of misalignment with God's original design. Little wonder daily life became toilsome, given that society's operate in a temporal and obstinate condition along a spiritual pilgrimage! Noah's great flood preludes mitzvah and baptism, through cleansing, preserving, and enrollment into an ark. Sin and fear became the major impediments individuals and communities sought to overcome, given that the cost of "missing the boat" ultimately became death. The sacrament of baptism pointed humanity towards a spiritual rebirth recognizing its bona-fide homeland. Acknowledging Noah's personal and familial handling grew to symbolize a type of domestic Church's proper and first response.[5] Third-century writings from Paradise of the Desert Fathers taught,

          Without the power of the Spirit, which sacramental baptism instills to facilitate Divine relationship, and              confirmed in us each day by receiving His Body and Blood, persons remain stained by impure passions.            We cannot conquer demons, and we cannot perform the works of spiritual excellence.[6]

Scriptural continuity highlights a prominent feature of Origen's (184-253) homilies. Origen saw baptism unfolding in two stages, beginning with a physical level water rite, emblematic of Noah's flood, but afterward graduating to a higher-level baptism with fire and the Holy Spirit. In times of a pandemic, sacramental praxis calls people to move spiritually beyond superficial understandings.  St. Symeon (949-1022) preached that baptism does not extinguish human free-will or liberty, but rather strengthens these, to provide persons and societies with the resistive power necessary to overcome dark impulses. Reinforced through baptism and confirmation, the capacity to participate in ongoing sacramental practice advances both persons and society. Baptism left inactivated, however, illustrates with allegory the sower who plants on rocky soil.[7] 

 

[1] From Gen, 4:9 “Where is your brother (sister)Abel?” God asks, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s (sister's) keeper?”

[2] From Gen, 6:3 “My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.” The author employs hyperbole to distinguish between God’s omnipotence versus humankind’s terminal nature. 

[3] From Gen, 6:2. “The sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were.” Probably ancient mythological beings.

[4] From Gen,  6:12-13. The warning of the flood to come. Noah has found favor with God.

[5] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Seven Sacraments of the Church VI, articles 1655-1658. A reintroduction by Vatican II of an ancient reference to the Church, ecclesia domestica.

[6] From Paradise of the Desert Fathers, Vol II, translated by E.A Wallis Budge, (1907) Revised edition.

[7] From the Gospel of Mathew 13:1-9, 18-23.

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