Today we read the story of Noah's ark. At first glance it can seem as destruction and punishment. In fact, if we look more closely, we see a story of love and second chances. Does it depict a God who is disappointed in his creation? Yes. Does it depict and vengeful God? No. If God were vengeful, he could have wiped away the whole thing and started over. He did not. Even those animals which are considered unclean are placed in the ark.
Throughout our history Christians have looked to the story of the flood as the precursor to the sacrament of baptism. In the waters of baptism we do die, but that is not the end. In the waters of baptism we die so that we can be reborn to a new and everlasting life. While we Catholics are less likely than some other Christians to talk about being born again, it is our theology of baptism.
This dying and rising is not a once in a lifetime event. As we begin to glimpse the coming of spring, we also begin to prepare for the coming of Lent. Three weeks from tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the time when we are called each year to die to self. If we are truly Christian, we must never be afraid of dying. On the contrary, we must constantly open ourselves to the power of God's grace to wash away in us everything that is not good, knowing that God as he did with the flood is always ready to give us a second chance.