We see today how Noah and his family follow God’s instructions and take refuge in the ark. The Fathers see Noah as prefiguring Jesus Christ, the wood of the ark as prefiguring the wood of the Cross, and the ark itself as prefiguring the Church. Saint Augustine writes,
Christ was also represented in Noah, and the world in that ark. For why were all living creatures shut up in that ark to signify all the nations? For God did not lack the capability of creating anew every species of living things… Was not Noah a holy man, who alone in the whole human race together with his whole house deserved to be delivered from the flood? And is not the Church prefigured by Noah and his sons? They escape the flood, with wood (which symbolises the Cross) carrying them.
Just as Noah’s family found salvation by cleaving to the wood of the ark, so we find salvation by cleaving to the wood of the Cross. And just as they are sheltered from turbulence in the ark, so the Church provides us with refuge on our journey of salvation.
However, we need to remain vigilant. Not everyone who saw Noah building the ark realised what he was doing or heeded the warnings of the flood. Saint Cyril of Alexandria refers to Jesus’ words in Saint Luke’s Gospel (17: 26-30) when he writes,
And to show that He will appear unexpectedly, and with no man knowing it, and the end of the world come, He says, that the end shall be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. For they were eating, He says, and drinking, and were taking wives, and being made the wives of men; they were selling and buying, and building; but the coming of the waters destroyed the one, while the others were the pray and food of brimstone and fire. What, therefore, is signified by this? That He requires us always to be watchful, and ready to make our defence before the tribunal of God.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 7:6-9:
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. 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. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah.