I teach CCD on Sunday morning to 12-year-olds, and last week we talked about Noah and the Flood. Remember the story? When God told Noah to build an Ark it was so that Noah and the animals would live through His coming chastisement, the Flood. Noah was the only man alive that listened to God, and He got the Ark. Everyone else had kicked God out of their lives and got the Flood. Now, that seems pretty just, doesn’t it?
Now fast forward to the moment before Jesus begins His ministry. John the Baptist is calling all of Jerusalem out into the wilderness to submerge themselves in water and confess that they need to change. To the people of Jerusalem, the people who know what happened when God flooded the world, what’s he calling them to do? Yes, he’s calling them to claim the Flood for themselves.
So along comes Jesus, the only one without any separation from God. He’s the only one of the crowd that actually qualifies for the Ark, and what does He do? He goes to John the Baptist to get baptized.
He’s claiming the Flood for Himself.
What happens to His place in the Ark?
He gives it to everyone else who deserved the Flood.
My roommate Tim spent a few months last year work working on renovating his house, and then opened it up to four other guys to live in as a Catholic men’s house. Because of Tim, the house is full of hospitality towards us and all the guests that come by. Tim cooks meals for us, has put together a chapel in the basement, and is always inviting us into whatever he’s got going on. Despite bumping into each other in many ways in the small quarters, all the guys get along, we have a lot of fellowship and camaraderie. It is a great place to live. It’s called the Sacred Heart House.
But you know what, he’s done all this with no money to his name, and his job isn’t making money. He could be nitpicking, making a tight budget, finding ways to squeeze money out of different living scenarios in the house, with the shopping, the utilities. He could raise the rent. He could start watching over how we treat the property. And then all the other guys in the house would really be living in the Flood instead of the Ark. You know, that sounds pretty just, doesn’t it? It’s his house and he’s really put all the money and effort into it. He could take the ark for himself and leave us with the flood. He could stop being generous.
But he’s not. He’s still giving. He’s in the hole financially and going deeper, but you’d never in a million years know it. Yesterday, he said to me, “A lot of people would say, ‘You’re crazy for what you’re doing.'” I said, “I know – but I think it’s great and inspiring.
He’s taking the Flood for himself. We are getting the Ark.
When Jesus got baptized, when He declared that He was taking the Flood for Himself and giving everyone His place in the Ark, that was one of the greatest moments in the history of the world. We know that because it moved God the Father so much, He actually spoke out loud so everyone would know: “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.” (Lk 3:22)
When times get dark, no matter how bad it looks, no matter how crazy it seems, don’t give up your generosity. Don’t do the thing that looks just. Don’t take the Ark for yourself. Claim the Flood for yourself and give the Ark to the ones who are important to you, especially if they can deserve the Flood.
Then, like Tim, you’ll move God’s Heart. You’ll be His beloved son.
Happy Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!