July 2019- Noah
What do we know about Noah and his times? Scripture tells us some, and we can infer some more from considering what Scripture tells us. Someone recently did some research, considering the life spans and a conservative estimate of the number of children couples had in those days. He concluded that when the flood came, the world's population was about a billion people. Some have also considered that the people of that time were technically advanced. Consider what some men have invented in a life of seventy or eight years. "The days of our years in them are threescore and ten years. But if in the strong they be fourscore years: and what is more of them is labour and sorrow." (Psalms 89:10) Now consider a life ten times as long, seven hundred to eight hundred years (Genesis 5). What could an inventor accomplish in such a long life? And so these assumptions could very well be true.
Let us consider what we know about Noah from Scripture. "And Noe, when he was five hundred years old, begot Sem, Cham, and Japheth." (Genesis 5:31) Now compared to his ancestors, this is rather late in life, for instance his father: "And Lamech lived a hundred and eighty-two years, and begot a son. And he called his name Noe, saying: This same shall comfort us from the works and labours of our hands on the earth, which the Lord hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begot Noe, five hundred and ninety-five years, and begot sons and daughters." (Genesis 5:28-30)
Let us assume that Noah only had three sons, and those later in life, and then consider another aspect of Noah. "And spared not the original world, but preserved Noe, the eighth person, the preacher of justice, the herald of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly." (II Peter 2:5 Douay and KJV) We are not told when Noah preached. Let us consider, Noah's father had other children, who presumably also had children and grand children. Noah, being possibly childless, was probably very busy in the lives of his nieces and nephews. He also would have had aunts and uncles and many other relatives. As an uncle myself, and single, I also had a large part in my nieces and nephews' lives for many years. And part of this is teaching and yes, even preaching. A very important part of the education of children is teaching them the way to heaven. And so we can consider that Noah began preaching about a hundred and fifty years old. And so he was a preacher of righteousness for three hundred and fifty years before he had children. Scripture does not say when God came and told Noah to build the Ark. We can infer that it was after his three sons were born from reading Genesis chapter six.
And what do we know about the time before the flood? "And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, It repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, He said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, from man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noe found grace before the Lord." (Genesis 6:5-8)
"And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:37-39) In the Gospels in several places, Jesus talks about an evil time that will come upon the world. "And as it came to pass in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat and drink, they married wives, and were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark: and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it came to pass, in the days of Lot: they did eat and drink, they bought and sold, they planted and built. And in the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed." (Luke 17:26-30) These references come after a description of many evils that will befall the world. Read these two chapters as well as Mark 13 and Luke 21. In Saint Matthew's Gospel (24:13), Jesus warns us of these times: "And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold."
Some believe we are in the times recounted here in Sacred Scripture, times which will bring on the man of son, son of perdition, the Antichrist. (II Thessalonians 2:3-4) Of these times Jesus warns: "For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be." (Matthew 24:21) In other words this will be the worst time in history. "For in those days shall be such tribulations, as were not from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, neither shall be." (Mark 13:19)
We know that today sin is abounding, just as it was in the days of Noah. Do we even listen to the preachers of righteousness today? Eight were saved in the Ark, which is a symbol of the Church. Jesus said: "I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?" (Luke 18:9) If only eight out of a billion were saved in the Ark, how many will be saved in the Ark of the New Covenant, the Church? The Prophet Isaias (10:19) tells us: "And they that remain of the trees of his forest shall be so few, that they shall easily be numbered, and a child shall write them down." Saint Athanasius wrote to his flock from his place of exile: "Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the Church of Jesus Christ." This was during the Arian heresy. We have already seen that this time will be worse, and Saint Athanasius considers the faithful could be reduced to a handful. Saint Augustine says that the Church in the Old Testament was reduced to a single person at some times in history, such as Noah at the flood. We might consider eight were saved, but were they all truly just? When we read Scripture, we find out that one of Noah's son was not that good and was eventually cursed.
If we believe we are in these times, we should not be looking for safety in numbers as the people did at the time of the flood, but for the few, the humble, the true Catholics.