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October 17, 2021

Year 2 - Week 7 (October 17 - 23)

Day 1 (Monday)

Genesis 7:1-24

Last week we saw God command Noah to build the Ark, and to prepare for the coming Flood, which would judge corrupt humanity and cleanse the earth of the taint that had come upon it through human sinfulness. We also saw God promise to keep Noah and his family alive, along with a remnant of all the animals of the earth, and to make His covenant with them; and saw that what God was planning with them was to remove them from the corrupted earth, to cleanse the earth, and to begin again with faithful people, that is, with Noah and his family. We should note that we see Noah first when he is 500 years old, when God tells him to begin to build the ark. Today, 100 years later, we will see the Flood arrive.

The Great Flood

7 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth.

4 For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark, to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, 9 two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth according to its kind, and every bird according to its kind, every bird of every sort.

15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And they that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.

17 The flood continued forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; 20 the waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man; 22 everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out three things here. First, God gives time, first 100 years, and then 7 days, for everyone else to repent; the only people who refuse to board the Ark are the ones who reject the salvation that He offers. Second, that it rains for 40 days, which is the first time that we see this number 40 in the Bible. This is, it seems, the amount of time it takes for the earth to be cleansed; it is also, not coincidentally, the length of both Great Lent and the Nativity Fast. Third, that both clean and unclean animals are brought on board the Ark, even though we haven’t yet seen what makes an animal clean or unclean. This is seen by several of the Fathers to foreshadow the Church, in which both the clean, that is, the Hebrew people, and the unclean, the Gentiles, are saved, so long as they are faithful to the Lord.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

St. Ephrem the Syrian On the Mercy of God in the Flood

St. Ephrem the Syrian lived in the cities of Nisibis and Edessa, in the far eastern part of what is now Turkey. He served a community that spoke Aramaic, rather than Greek, and as a result he preached and wrote in that language. He lived from 306 to 373, and was therefore a contemporary of St. Basil the Great and the many other great saints of the 4th century. He wrote many hymns, and especially hymns that were used to teach, but he also wrote a number of commentaries on the Scripture, including one on the book of Genesis. From him, then, we are able to see what a saint of the 4th century thought was important about the story of Noah and the Flood.

Invitation to Repentance

Noah began the ark in the first year that was allowed that generation for repentance and he finished it in one hundred years. Although Noah was an example to that generation by his righteousness and had, in his uprightness, announced to them the flood during that one hundred years, they still did not repent. So Noah said to them, “Some of all flesh will come to be saved with me in the ark.” But they mocked him [saying], “How will all the beasts and birds that are scattered throughout every corner of the earth come from all those regions?”

(2) On that same day elephants came from the east, apes and peacocks approached from the south, other animals gathered from the west, and still others hastened to come from the north. Lions came from the jungles and wild beasts arrived from their lairs. Deer and wild donkeys came from their lands and the mountain beasts gathered from their mountains.

(3) When those of that generation gathered [to see] this novel sight, it was not to repent, but rather to amuse themselves. Then, in their very presence, the lions began to enter the ark and the bulls, with no fear, hurried in right on their heels to seek shelter with the lions. The wolves and the lambs entered together and the hawks and the sparrows together with the doves and the eagles.

10. When those of that generation were still not persuaded, neither by the gathering of all the animals at that time nor by the love that instantly grew between [the animals], the Lord said to Noah, “In seven days, I will blot out everything that I have made.”

So God granted one hundred years while the ark was being made to that generation, and still they did not repent. God summoned beasts that they had never seen and still they showed no remorse. He established a state of peace between the predatory animals and those who are preyed upon, and still they had no awe. God delayed yet seven more days for them, even after Noah and every creature had entered the ark, leaving the gate of the ark open to them. This is a wondrous thing that no lion remembered its jungle and no species of beast or bird visited its customary haunt! Although those of that generation saw all that went on outside and inside the ark, they were still not persuaded to renounce their evil deeds.…

(2) For this reason, at the end of the seven days, in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the springs of the great abyss burst forth and the flood gates of heaven were opened. The Lord shut the door before Noah, lest those left behind come at the time of the floods and break down the gate of the ark. The deluge came and God blotted out all flesh. Only Noah was left and those that were with him in the ark. The springs of the abyss and the flood gates of heaven were open forty days and forty nights, and the ark was afloat for one hundred fifty days.

Ephrem the Syrian. (2004). St. Ephrem the Syrian: Selected Prose Works. (T. P. Halton & K. McVey, Eds., E. G. Mathews Jr. & J. P. Amar, Trans.) (Vol. 91, pp. 138–141). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.


Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that St. Ephrem makes very clear that the Flood was not something that God did in a sudden flash of temper, but something that He did only after many, many years of warnings, accompanied by preaching and miracles, urging the people of that time to repent and to return to faithfulness. He gave them an example of righteousness (in Noah), a proof that He was serious about the Flood (in the building of the Ark itself, and then in the assembly of all the animals), and then a final seven days for them to be saved before He closed the door Himself and sent the waters of the Flood. Therefore, we can be certain that there was no one innocent, no one who wanted to repent and be saved, who was drowned in the Flood. Everyone was completely corrupt and evil, to the point that they rejected the salvation that was offered to them.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 2:13-22

Last week we saw Jesus go out into the countryside around Capernaum, where He healed a leper, and then return to Capernaum, where He healed the paralytic whose friends climbed up on the roof of the house in which Jesus was preaching and broke open the roof so they could let their friend down in front of the Lord. We saw Him declare Himself to be God by first forgiving the man’s sins, and then proving His authority to do so by healing him with a word. We should note that up to this point, He has called only four disciples: Simon (Peter) & Andrew, & James and John.

Jesus Calls Levi

13 Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. 14 As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

15 And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

The Question about Fasting

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that there are two main lessons to this reading. The first is that Jesus comes to save sinners, as He calls Levi meets with Levi’s sinful friends. Note along with this that He doesn’t just eat with them, but He preaches to them, and calls them to repentance. This is precisely WHY He comes and spends time with sinners…to call them to leave their sin behind and to follow Him. The second lesson is that those who follow Him behave differently from other people. This shows that the Way He is proclaiming isn’t just another sect of Judaism, just another human religious practice, because it’s not just about the ideas or the practices, but about being with Him. More advanced students may enjoy thinking about what the cloth patch and wineskins paragraph has to do with what goes before.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?