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How the Story of the Flood Is Retold at the Cross

At the crucifixion, the story of God’s judgment on a sinful earth is rewritten in a dramatic way.

Church tradition identifies the wooden cross with the ark that saved Noah, his family, and a remnant of creation from the Genesis flood (as told in Genesis 7; for an example of Church tradition see St. Augustine here). If the ark is recapitulated, as it were, in the cross, then we naturally wonder where is the other major physical element of the story, the water?

That, of course, enters the story in the piercing of Christ’s side, when blood and water gush forth.

The relationship between the wood and the water are redefined at Golgotha.

In the flood, the waters swallowed up the whole earth, with the ark, as giant as it was, just a speck by comparison. Yet, in the crucifixion, the wood—the symbol of salvation—now dominates the scene.

In Genesis, the waters are a source of death. They threaten the ark, which must be protected from them. But, in the Gospel of John, the water that pours out of Christ’s side is life-giving, symbolizing the waters of baptism. The relationship between the wood and the water is a positive one. One leads to the other.

Through the crucifixion, the symbolism of water is transformed from judgment to mercy.

Or, to put it another way, in the person of Christ, God’s judgment becomes mercy for us. As St. Thomas Aquinas writes, in the Summa Theologica, “In the justification of the ungodly, justice is seen, when God remits sins on account of love, though He Himself has mercifully infused that love.

Read more at Catholic Exchange

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