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In the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the abyss were broken up, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. On that very day entered Noe, Sem, Cham, Japheth, the sons of Noe, and the wife of Noe, and the three wives of his sons with him into the ark. And all the wild beasts after their kind, and all cattle after their kind, and every reptile moving itself on the earth after its kind, and every flying bird after its kind, went in to Noe into the ark, pairs, male and female of all flesh in which is the breath of life. And they that entered went in male and female of all flesh, as God commanded Noe, and the Lord God shut the ark from without upon him. And the flood was upon the earth forty days and forty nights, and the water abounded greatly and bore up the ark, and it was lifted on high from off the earth. And the water prevailed and abounded exceedingly upon the earth, and the ark was borne upon the water. And the water prevailed exceedingly upon the earth, and covered all the high mountains which were under heaven. Fifteen cubits upwards was the water raised, and it covered all the high mountains. And there died all flesh that moved upon the earth, of flying creatures and cattle, and of wild beasts, and every reptile moving upon the earth, and every man. And all things which have the breath of life, and whatever was on the dry land, died. And God blotted out every offspring which was upon the face of the earth, both man and beast, and reptiles, and birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth, and Noe was left alone, and those with him in the ark. And the water was raised over the earth an hundred and fifty days. And God remembered Noe, and all the wild beasts, and all the cattle, and all the birds, and all the reptiles that creep, as many as were with him in the ark, and God brought a wind upon the earth, and the water stayed. And the fountains of the deep were closed up, and the flood-gates of heaven, and the rain from heaven was withheld. And the water subsided, and went off the earth, and after an hundred and fifty days the water was diminished, and the ark rested in the seventh month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. – Genesis 7:11-8:3
In few and simple words, today’s reading recounts an unimaginable catastrophe, the catastrophe of all earth history, the flood of Noah. God lifts His mighty hand and destroys all that has breath, save those in the Ark. We have grown used to the story, and we do not think about it much. If we did, we would feel our real size, our nothingness before God. He is the Almighty, and none can withstand His will.
At the same time, He is unexpectedly close to us, closer than we are to ourselves. Note the end of verse 7:16: “And the Lord God shut the ark from without upon him.” Amid this terrifying display of His total and irresistible might to make and destroy all things, the Lord walks up to the hatch and shuts His friends safe inside. Thus He makes clear to them: “Do not fear: It is I who take care of you.”
In verse 8:1, we read that God “remembered” Noah and all the beasts. God also remembers us, with His remembrance that never alternates with forgetfulness. He is thinking about us at every moment. If He did not, we would cease to exist, for in Him only “…do we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).” His Word (Logos with a big “L”) is the blueprint of our existence, and the Breath of His mouth, His Spirit, gives us life. In the infinite Mind of the Father there is a logos (with a little “l”) corresponding to each of us, a little blueprint of each unique existence. From Him did we come, and to Him will we return, for “…unto Thee shall all flesh come (Ps. 64:2).” This should make us feel so very small, when we think on how little justice we do to a beginning and to an end that are so very grand.
Let us, this Great Lent, remember Him Who remembers us, and realize who we are.
This commentary was taken from The Eternal Sacrifice: The Genesis Readings for Great Lent by Fr. Steven Allen. You can order a copy from Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FrStevenAllen