Mercy Flows from the Flood

First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

The story of Noah and the flood is one of the most fascinating narratives in the Bible. Not only is it a gripping saga of survival, it also relates the destructive power of sin and God’s desire to save us.

The book of Genesis tells us that when God saw the wickedness on the earth, “[He] was sorry that he had made mankind …” (Gen 6:6). The people whom He created “very good” had turned out to be wicked. God is saddened by the sinfulness of His people.

This story gives us some insight into how sin offends God. Our Heavenly Father is all good, and He created us to be good also. However, when we sin, we reject God’s goodness and choose something less.

Because sin offends God who is “all good and deserving of all our love”, it warrants punishment. In civil society, when laws are broken, a fine or jail sentence is handed out to restore justice. Just so, when God’s commandments are broken, a punishment must be inflicted to bring the evildoing to an end so that no one else may be harmed. In the story from Genesis, that punishment comes in the form of a devastating flood.

However, the story does not end with sin and punishment. For all the terror and destruction the flood inflicted on earth, the point of the story is that God wants to save us. For that reason, He commanded Noah to build the ark to protect his family and to give His creation a fresh start. On His own initiative, He promises never to destroy His creation again because He wants a relationship with the people He created. God is willing to forgo His right to punish so that He can love us and be loved by us in return.

The ultimate sign of God’s desire to save us is the cross of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus never sinned, his offering on the cross is pure. Like God, Jesus is infinite, and the blood he shed can be extended to all who have ever lived and ever will live. It can never be used up. There will never be a point at which the wickedness of humanity will exhaust the mercy that flows from the cross.

Sadly, many evils continue to beset the world. In fact, many more human beings have died from abortion since its legalization than would have died from the flood. Injustice in the forms of sexual harassment, the exploitation of migrants, and racial discrimination continue to be rampant. There are also many ongoing threats to our planet, such as the specter of climate change and the ever-present menace of nuclear war.

In the face of all these frighteningly real evils, we proclaim our unshakable hope that good has conquered evil in the person of Jesus Christ. That hope motivates us to overcome our personal sin and fight injustice in our world up to the day that God’s victory stretches from one end of the earth to the other like a rainbow arching over the sky.

Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.