Homily for Feb. 16, Wednesday of the VI week in OT year I Click on the “play” triangle above to listen, or click here to download the MP3 audio file
Let’s imagine for a moment what it must have felt like to be Noah, floating in the ark. All the world is covered with water. You’re in a big boat with a bunch of animals and your family, and there is no land in sight… for more than a month. You send out a dove, and it comes back to you because it didn’t find anywhere to land. What do you feel? Although Noah was certainly a man of faith – after all, he’d built the ark, and the flood had come as God had said it would – I bet he would have felt a bit nervous, maybe had some nagging doubts in the back of his mind: “What if the flood never recedes? Or what if I have to start eating the animals I am supposed to save for posterity?” But Noah waits with faith and eventually the land reappears and he and his family are able to re-settle.
It must have been even harder for the blind man in the Gospel reading today. We aren’t told how long he was blind, but it must have seemed like there was no hope; he couldn’t exactly go to the local ophthalmologist for cataract surgery or anything like that. But then, Jesus came along, and cured him. The theatrics about spitting on his eyes were quite probably a means to help the man’s faith that Jesus was in fact doing something to help him, because many times Jesus cured other sick people with just a single word, but he wanted them to have faith, and sometimes He helped them with sensible signs.
These two stories both give us a message of hope. No matter how dark the blindness, no matter how high the water has risen, God does not abandon us. In the words of a beautiful song by an American folk singer, “the world is always turning towards the morning”.
It’s true that the solution to our problems won’t always come quickly, or even might not come in this life at all, but we know that even death is not the end. The flood and Noah’s ark are also symbols of baptism into Christ, who gives us eternal life. The wood of the ark is compared to the wood of the cross that saves us from sin. We die with the Lord, so we can live with the Lord. The requirement for passing from death to life is that we trust in God and get in the boat, and stay on board. We do that by living our Christian life as best we can, living our faith actively in the Church, and frequenting the sacraments regularly. God will save us as long as we cooperate, so that in the end, we will be able to say with today’s psalm: “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?”