Our first reading at Sunday Mass reminds us about the covenant between God and Noah after the ancient flood. As we read in Genesis, when God Almighty had decided to flood the earth completely, He did it with divine sadness. He had made the world to be beautiful. But Satan had befouled creation with so much sin and degradation that only a fresh start could get things back on-track. [SPANISH]
The flood didn’t mean the end of everything. The same human race that God had created originally, and the same animals–all would survive, and provide a new beginning, after the flood. But only one ark-full. One isolated, solitary ark floating on the surface of an endless sea.
Now, we Catholics love the world. We do not despise anything that God has made. We know that He made everything to thrive, to flourish.
God made this cosmos—gave it a beginning, but not an end. He made the world to endure forever, as an eternal temple of His light. He even made the devil good, beautiful, powerful, vastly intelligent. God made Lucifer not for malice, but for love.
Lucifer, however, willed otherwise. He willed destruction. He wills the degradation of the world. And the devil has such skill in wreaking havoc that the world, which we love, which belongs to eternity—this world, at one point, justly got submerged under an endless sea. God covered the earth with enough water to drown everyone and everything that didn’t make it onto the ark. Not because God hated what He made, but because Satan had done his evil work so well. All of the devil’s destruction had to be destroyed, in order that the world could thrive again. So the flood came.
Now, all of this happened to foreshadow of the mystery of Christ, and of Baptism into Christ. To begin Lent, we have to ask the question: Where do we find the Kingdom of God? In this world, or in another world? Here, or somewhere else?
The Lord Jesus went out into the ark of total solitude for 40 days. He turned His back on the world, as if it were covered with an endless sea of water. We Catholics follow Christ into that ark of Lenten solitude, into the ark of self-denial. We turn our backs on things like ice-cream and champagne. We get into the ark of Lenten separation from the normal comforts of this earth.
The ark doesn’t have wifi or cable. The berths on the ark do not have featherbeds. But our Lenten observances do not involve self-loathing, nor world-hating. We don’t hate ice-cream or champagne. At least I don’t. We don’t hate the world. We don’t hate ourselves.
But the fact of the matter is: The Enemy has enough power to just about ruin the world. He has enough power to just about ruin us. And He’s clever enough to ruin us with things so apparently innocuous as tvs, phones, ice-cream cones, donuts.
We do not undertake our Lenten penances with glee. God did not gleefully flood the earth in the days of Noah. God wouldn’t have flooded the earth at all, except He knew that, after forty days and forty nights of endless rain, He would set the rainbow in the clouds again. Everything would start fresh and happy, with all the creatures from the ark standing on the fertile ground. Birds singing and flowers starting to grow, like they had back in the Garden of Eden.
We undertake our Lenten penances because we love ourselves enough to hate how weak we can be. We love the world enough to hate how it can lead us to make big mistakes in it. The world needs a big wash-down. We need a big wash-down.
The world will never grow into the Kingdom of God, unless we love it enough to turn our backs on it for 40 days. And we ourselves won’t make it to the divine Kingdom that this world will one day be, unless we deny ourselves and take up our crosses during Lent. With the same kind of loving courage that led the Lord Jesus out into the desert.