Gn. 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; Ps 29:1-4, 3b, 9c-10; Mk 8:14-21
We join in religious community to give the LORD glory and praise, to give Him the glory due his name. We would adore the LORD in holy attire. In prayer and meditation they would listen to the voice of the LORD. In the temple of the LORD we would cry “Glory!” We lived for God, the LORD enthroned above the flood; the LORD is enthroned as king forever. The flood came upon the earth at the time of Noah to cleanse and purify man’s wickedness from the earth. The Lord Jesus warns his disciples in today’s gospel about the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. In our assembly today is this wicked leaven still a danger for us?
In the middle of the thirteenth century the cultured and prosperous city of Florence was torn by political strife and with the heresy of the Cathari. Civil morals were low and religion seemed meaningless and distant from the people. This grieved the heart of the LORD yet; he did not send a flood like at the time of Noah. Instead he inspired seven noblemen of Florence to withdraw from the city and seek a solitary place for prayer and service of the LORD. At the time of Noah the LORD was sorry that he made man upon the face of the earth, but Noah found favor with the LORD. When the flood wiped out from the earth: man, all the beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air, He did not destroy Noah and his family. Rather he summoned Noah to save a pair of every clean and unclean animal so that after forty days and forty nights of a devastating flood the LORD might bring back life in all its forms through the arc of his servant Noah. Many generations later when Florence and much of Europe was devastated by plague and heresy the LORD summoned many men and women to form religious communities to keep the faith alive and bring to birth a new Christian Europe.
The heart of the Living God was grieved and moved. The hearts of the disciples of the Lord Jesus were hardened. In his tender compassion the LORD summoned Noah and his family. In the same tenderness the LORD summoned seven pampered and bored nobles to found the Order of Servites. This God of ours is a God who saves. He rescues us in every devastating flood of water and every flood of despair. Indeed, in every generation we too must understand and comprehend that the LORD is summoning us out of our hardness of heart. He wants us to remember that he supplies our daily bread. The one who feeds us owns us. The Lord Jesus gives us his body and blood so that we might become what we eat and never get caught up in the leaven of those who try to hide behind power or religion to avoid the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom comes as a judgment upon all who oppose the LORD, and it is a reward to all who seek him. “Do you still not understand?”