Readings for First Sunday in Advent: IS 2: 1-5; PS 122: 1-9; ROM 13: 11-14; MT 24: 37-44
It’s impossible for thoughtful homilists not to be stopped dead in their tracks by the opening words of today’s Gospel selection.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. . .”
Of course, everyone knows the Noah tale. There God warned the great patriarch that a huge flood was coming to destroy the earth, because its inhabitants had become so violent.
Presumably, Noah shared such forewarnings with his contemporaries – or at least with those wondering why he was constructing so mammoth a vessel. Apparently no one listened. You might even say they were in denial about the coming deluge. But the disaster came anyway and swept them all away.
Jesus’ words seem unmistakably pertinent to themes of climate change today — particularly in a context where USians have just elected a climate change denier to the White House and have given control of all branches of government to a party of “representatives” who refuse to recognize that humans can or should do anything about predicted natural disasters that threaten to completely replicate the catastrophe recounted in the legend of Noah and his Ark.
Such denial has rendered the Trump-led Republican Party (in the words of Noam Chomsky) “the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.” And that includes Hitler’s Nazis. Even aside from their not possessing nuclear weapons, the Nazis did not have the power to destroy all of human life even if they wanted to. The Republicans do.
And they are completely dedicated to that project. They are racing as fast as possible towards the destruction of organized human life. In the meantime, their allegiance to the fossil fuel industry and unwillingness to fund alternative sources of energy will undoubtedly produce millions of refugees from low-lying coastal regions throughout the world. The resulting influx of refugees from sea-level rise will render any exclusionary “walls” impotent and useless.
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel reading become even more pointed since they connect the Noah story with imperialism — another great producer of refugees. The device for doing so is the Master’s reference to “the Son of Man.” That’s the character that the Book of Daniel invokes as the judge of all the empires that had conquered Israel – from Egypt to the Greeks. In his own day, Jesus apparently identified himself with that judge in relation to his people’s imperial enemy in first century Palestine, viz. the Roman Empire. Colonial violence, Jesus promises, will be Rome’s downfall.
Besides their suicidal climate change denial, Republicans , of course (like their Democratic counterparts), are champions of empire and U.S military supremacy.
Today because of their denial and dedication to empire, Trump and his party have taken Rome’s place as an even more dangerous Enemy of Humankind. Jesus words call us to “wake up” and recognize that danger.
All of us, the Noah reference suggests, must awaken and pray for a holy insomnia that refuses to accept as somehow “normal” the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.
If we don’t take to the streets and refuse to join Republicans’ rush to the precipice, there will surely come. . . LA DELUGE!