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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Climb Aboard the Ark of Our Salvation!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
First Sunday in Lent, Feb 22, 2015
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Happy Lent! 

In today’s first reading for the first Sunday of Lent, we are given the opportunity to reflect on the story of Noah (Gen 9:8-15.)

We do not know when the story of Noah took place, except that it happened after sin entered into our world. Men had become very violent and corrupted. Noah -- blameless among his peers -- finds favor with God. So God says that He is going to destroy the world by flood, but He will save Noah and His family. 

So Noah receives instructions to build an ark and fill it with animals to keep Noah's family safe and preserve life. 

Now, the Bible tells us that the great flood  covered the entire earth -- the greatest disaster in human history. Nothing else has even come close. The Flood waters rose above all the world’s mountains. The Earth’s crust heaved and buckled unleashing terrible volcanic eruptions and massive earthquakes like the world has never seen before or since.

All cities were totally destroyed. The rains continued for forty days, and the earth continued to shake causing huge tsunami waves to sweep across the sinking land. So great was the destruction that every human being died, along with millions of animals and plants. 

The only people spared were Noah’s faithful family. God had prepared Noah and his family for this great disaster because Noah and his family sought God. 

After this great  disaster, God promises Noah that He will never again destroy the world by  flood. He enjoins Noah to repopulate the earth and enjoy all God’s blessings. 

Yet, God knew that sin would continue to mar his creation. God had created humanity out of love and he wanted to bring us back to Himself. So God picked Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants.  God  then gave His law and commandments  through Moses, and He sent His prophets to testify to the law. Finally, God would send His Son as savior of the world.
Fr. John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, today’s reading of the story of Noah calls us to reflect on the saving action of God. 

In fact, the ark of Noah can be seen as a symbol of God’s salvation in our present day. As Noah was saved through the wood of the boat, we are being saved through the wood of Our Lord’s cross. Through His cross our Lord has given us His Church to be His ark of salvation until He comes again. It is the Church that carries God’s people through the rising floods of sin today. It is the Church that preserves life. 

Our Lord is calling everyone into His Church so that all peoples will be saved. Yet, there are many who are shunning this boat of salvation because they do not want to change their ways. 

In today’s Gospel Our Lord says, “Repent, and believe in the gospel!” This is what we need to do to be saved. Jesus has told us that the kingdom of God is at hand, so we need to prepare by acknowledging our need for God and by striving to change our lives!

In the end, we do not know how many will be saved, but our Lord has indicated that it will be few. 

In the Gospel of Luke, someone asks our Lord how many will be saved. Our Lord answers by saying,
“strive to enter the narrow gate…” 

Again, in the Gospel of Matthew, Our Lord says,
“Many are invited, but few are chosen.” 

Again in the Gospel of Matthew, Our Lord says,
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven.'”

My brothers and sisters, our Catholic Church is the Ark of Salvation. It is the Church where we come to be separated from the world that is perishing. It is the Church where we come to be safe from the flood of sin that surrounds our society on all sides. We are given this protection through the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist. 

The tides of the world today want to overwhelm our Church. The spirit of the world strives to puncture holes into the Bark of Peter through its influence of immorality so that the Ark of Christ will sink!
Bark of St. Peter
But our Church will never sink. As Noah’s ark was built according to God’s plan, so too our Church is built according to God’s directions and plan. Our Church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and its doctrines hold the whole structure of the Church in place. 

The Church has faced many storms in the past, and it will encounter greater storms in the future. But the gates of hell will never prevail against it!

As we prepare for Easter this Lent, let us praise God for His gift of salvation to us that is given through His Church. Let us cling to the Ark of our faith so that we can be carried through the rising floodwaters of our society and be placed safely onto the shores of eternal life.

They have actually found Noah's Ark! You 
might like to read about it. Noah's Ark Has Been Found. Why are They Keeping Us in The Dark?

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