We all know the story of Noah’s Ark. The kids love it because of the animals and the rainbow, but few adults really think about it much, except to try and prove it’s historical accuracy. Few people, I think, really look at what this story can teach us.
We know that God told Noah to bring in all the animals, but look how he says it, “Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female.” These are all opposites. Clean and unclean, birds and ground animals, male and female, human and animal. Of course this makes since, He wants to save everything, but it is the way He says it. He takes all these opposites and locks them up together on one boat. Remember in Genesis 7:16, it says the Lord Locked them in. They should be tearing each other apart in there. But they don’t.
I’ve long heard the ark as a metaphor for the Church. God saving His people across the oceans of time, and it is fitting. Inside that Church we have all these opposing forces and we should be tearing each other to pieces. Instead, by some miracle, God holds us all together. This gathering of contractions is the school of love. It is the school of salvation.
The miracle that holds it all together is forgiveness. “You should bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). Forgiveness is central to the teachings of Jesus. We have to bear the burden of reality. To accept that it seldom meets all of our needs. In doing so we accept it, we forgive reality for being what it is.
When we forgive we get to experience three great graces. God’s completely unmerited goodness, the deeper goodness of who you are forgiving, and your own goodness. There is nothing else like it for real transformation. That’s why Jesus insisted on it.