Today we continue to hear from Genesis about Noah and his ark. The ark, said the Fathers, foreshadowed the Church, the “barque of St. Peter.” Just as those who were in the ark were saved from the flood, so, too, those who are in the Church are brought into heaven. We should want the whole world in the boat for that reason. And life is better in the boat, anyway. A sad thing happens when people jump out of the boat, when they leave the Church. Jesus calls us fishers of men, to rescue the lost and sinking, to send out search parties. And to make a serious catch. Here’s a nice piece.
Jesus has something to say about hardened hearts in our gospel today. Hint: he doesn’t like them. And the first reading today says, “The LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil…” Today on Valentine’s Day we celebrate the heart and the love and mercy and grace it is capable of. What is your heart conceiving today?
“‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Yes.” – Fr. Christian Raab, OSB
Among my happy memories from the playground at St. Charles School during my elementary school days is foursquare. We had a lot of fun with foursquare, and sometimes you’d wait all recess in line it was so popular. There was one guy though, who will remain unnamed here. He was a friend of mine. Well, he was a friend before foursquare. He was infamous for making his own rules when he got to the king spot. All of the sudden, every rule you knew about foursquare was out the window. He would tell, “Cherry bomb” or “Around the World” or “Corners” or “Penguins” and a host of other things. Those were code words that meant new rules, changed rules, thrown out rules. I hated when people would do that! Why?? Because you don’t get to just make your own rules! Can you imagine if the rules of chess, or basketball, or football were just thrown out willy-nilly? If someone decided that the king in chess could all the sudden do what the queen could, or that a bishop could be a rook if he felt like one? It would be ridiculous. And we get that, mostly.
Today we continue hearing from the earliest pages of the bible. Even there, we see the cross. Today we hear of the pain of childbirth, the “thorns and the thistles.” I recall a homily in seminary from Fr. Ron Knott. He reminded us future priests that we ought to expect the cross in the priesthood. We don’t go in thinking it will all be green fields and flowers and nice things. There will be pain, there will be the cross. But if we go into it–whether it’s priesthood or marriage or some new job or ministry or whatever–if we go into the thing expecting the cross, then, when it comes, we are not caught off guard. Why? Because we knew the day would come for it. And God will take care not to let us collapse, as the text of our Gospel today assures.
Today we celebrate St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict. One of the most famous legends about St. Scholastica has to do with a dialogue she had with St. Benedict, wherein the two discussed many holy things all night long. Our alleluia refrain today is from Acts and references the dialogue we ought to have with the Lord Jesus: “Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.” And yet the first reading is about a different type of dialogue, a dialogue with the devil. He seduces Eve. Pope Francis today reminds us not to dialogue with the devil; the devil will likely win. Best to avoid him altogether and dialogue with the communion of saints, and with the Lord.