Friday, November 16, 2007

are we the beasts in the Ark?

I wonder about this after reading Origen's take on today's Gospel:

Origen (c.185-253), priest and theologian
Homilies on Genesis, II, 3 (SC 7b, p.89)

The ark of the Church

Insofar as the meanness of my mind allows, I think that the flood which
almost put an end to the world in those days is the symbol of the end of
the world, an end that must truly happen. The Lord himself declared it when
he said: “In the days of Noah, men were buying, selling, building, marrying
and giving their daughters in marriage, and the flood came and destroyed
them all. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.” In this text it would
very much seem as though the Lord describes in one and the same way both
the flood that has already taken place and the end of the world that he is
pointing to in the future.

And so, in days of old, the aged Noah was told to make an ark and take
into it with him not only his sons and family but beasts of every kind.
Similarly, at the consummation of the ages, the Lord Jesus Christ, our new
Noah, the only “good and blameless man” (Gn 6,9), was told by his Father to
make an ark of fashioned wood, giving it measurements that are full of
divine mysteries (cf Gen 6,15). This is shown by one of the psalms, which
says: “Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the
ends of the earth for your possession,” (Ps 2,8). And so he built an ark
containing various shelters to house all kinds of animals. One of the
prophets speaks of these dwellings when he writes: “Go, my people, enter
into your chambers; hide yourselves for a brief moment, until the wrath is
past,” (Is 26,20). Thus there is a mysterious analogy between that people
which is saved in the Church and all those creatures, both men and animals,
saved from the flood inside the ark.

It's possible to see the story of the Ark as a parallel to the Apostles, Paul in particular, being told to go forth and make disciples of all nations - to bring them into "the barque of Peter". It was on Peter's boat in Luke 5 that Christ demonstrated his ability to call the multitudes (in this case fish) out of the sea and into the boat. And Paul went from place to place by ship, ultimately taking the Church Peter was entrusted with to Rome. And at Rome, this Ark - the barque of Peter - found its new iteration as it brought us beasts from all nations on board for the journey to and with Christ. This ties in with Henri de Lubac's description of the Catholic Church as Israel in the wilderness, carrying the Ark of the Covenant as a fellow refugee.

But anyway, we are beasts that were created on the 6th day, and Christ came to be the Word and Bread of Life for the beasts with the distinction of being made in His image.

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