Today we see how God instructs Noah to take his family into the ark, together with both the clean and the unclean animals. This passage is full of symbolism. By encouraging them to ‘Go into the ark,’ God is encouraging the righteous to seek the truth, or, as Saint Ambrose of Milan puts it,
‘Go into,’ that is, go into yourself, into your mind, in the ruling part of your soul. Salvation is there, the rudder is there; outside the deluge rages, outside there is danger. In truth, if you have been inside, you are safe outside too, because when the mind is the straightforward guide of the self, the thoughts are righteous, the actions are righteous. If no vice obscures the mind, the thoughts are trustworthy.
Moreover, the clean and unclean animals that the ark receives symbolise both the clean and unclean members of the Church. The ark symbolises the Church, which is not intended to be an elitist club, but a place where all people are invited to seek salvation. Saint Augustine writes,
Let us recognise that the ark prefigured the Church. Let us be the clean beasts in it. Yet let us not refuse to allow the unclean ones to be carried in it with us until the end of the deluge. They were together in the ark, but they were not equally pleasing to the Lord as a savour of sacrifice, for after the deluge, Noah offered sacrifice to God of the clean, not of the unclean. But the ark was not on that account abandoned before the time by any of the clean because of the unclean.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 7:1-5:
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. 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; 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. 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.” And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.