Our Noah Moment: My Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster

My Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster considers the wisdom of Pope Francis (and a six-year-old boy), as the UN Climate Change Conference continues in Glasgow.

You can listen here, or read the text below:

Our ‘Noah Moment’

Pope Francis has said that COVID-19 is the world’s ‘Noah Moment’.

In Francis’ view, God uses Noah to give humanity a path out of destruction brought on by their own ‘evil’ actions, as the biblical account puts it.

Similarly, Francis sees COVID-19 as helping us realize how human activity has brought our world to the brink of destruction.

While Francis emphasizes the redemptive aspect of the Noah story, it has its dark shadows. Humanity was saved, but at a ghastly price.

Francis doesn’t dwell on the ghastly price. This may be appropriate, because he is encouraging us to find our own path out of destruction.

The distressing details also are left out in my son’s children’s bible, an appropriate concession for age. We read the story together recently. My son was treated to a colourful parade of animals and, of course, the rainbow as a sign of God’s promise to preserve the earth.

But his bible included a detail that I’ve always found puzzling: after the door of the ark is shut, it doesn’t rain for seven whole days. I’ve always thought of this pause before the rainfall as an anxious time. I asked my son what he thought the people in the ark were doing. He said: ‘They would need to look after the animals. Then they could relax and eat sweets.’

There’s a certain wisdom in his words, a commitment to look after creation and to cease striving. It’s not too far off what the Pope himself takes from the story. In his book Let us Dream, Francis prompts us to consider what came after the flood, including the practices of Sabbath and Jubilee. He says that the Sabbath rest and the Jubilee forgiveness of debts created ‘time for the earth to bounce back, for the poor to find fresh hope, for people to find their souls again.’

The United Nations Climate Change Conference continues this week, potentially offering our own path out of the shadows. Let’s hope that our Noah Moment comes with rainbows.

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