Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
In yesterday’s first reading from Genesis, we heard the end of the flood story, as Noah sent out a dove to look for dry ground. Today we hear what happened after this great flood. It almost sounds as though it is a second creation story. God makes a new covenant with his people: He gives all the animals to Noah and his family, and he reaffirms that human beings are made in God’s image. He also gives these people the same instruction he had given Adam and Eve, namely, to be fertile and multiply so as to fill the earth and subdue it. In this new covenant, God promises never to send a flood again to devastate the earth.
This promise, this new covenant, is a fresh beginning for the earth and for Noah and his family. It represents the opportunity for humankind to start again, and to make better decisions than Adam and Eve and Cain and so on. Humanity is offered the chance to be faithful to God and to dedicate their entire lives to doing His will on earth.
What happened next, however, was not a new way of life, but rather, a reversion to the old habits. In the succeeding passages of Genesis, we learn of blatant corruption and sin among the family members of Noah. In some sense, it is another opportunity squandered. But despite this sin, God stays true to his commitment inasmuch as he does not send another flood. Rather, as we hear throughout Genesis, God continues to make even more promises to his people, despite their infidelity and irresponsibility.
The chief and final covenant made between God and his people comes to us in the form of Jesus, as is indicated in today’s gospel passage. In this reading from Mark we hear Peter, the leader of the Apostles, affirm Jesus as the Christ. But while Peter grasps the importance of Jesus as the Messiah, it is clear that he does not understand what it means to be the Messiah. In keeping and sealing God’s final covenant with his people, Jesus offers not only his life and ministry, but his passion and death. Jesus, both human and divine, is the only one capable of saving humanity in this covenant. And he does it out of love for us.
Moreover, the story does not end with Jesus’ death, but with his resurrection. Ultimately, God is victorious, and through God, all of humankind triumphs. Our true rainbow of promise comes with Jesus’ saving death and his being raised to new life. We are freed from the miseries of this life because we are called to live with God forever.
Let us take sometime today to reflect on God’s great mercy. Having given us life on earth, we failed. Having given us a second chance after the flood, we failed again. Rather than giving up on us, however, the Father sent his only Son that we might all have eternal life in Christ. May we always be thankful for this gift and not squander our opportunity to live in God, even in our daily lives here on earth.
- Maria Morrow