2023 Daily Lenten Journey – Day 25
There is an old joke among parents. If your children are quiet, they’re up to something. All parents know this to be true. Children who are getting in trouble avoid detection at all costs. As parents we laugh, but as a Church we weep. If left alone, we all eventually get in trouble.
These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.Genesis 10:32-11:9
Generations after Noah’s family walked out of the Ark, the earth was again filled with humanity. Again, we were up to no good and God acted to save us. Save us? Right! As Orthodox we consider the destruction of the Tower of Babel as salvation rather than punishment. Humanity was trying to reach heaven without God.
Heaven is given to us by God and cannot be taken by humanity. The false sense of mission described in today’s reading is similar to the many excuses I hear from people who try to ‘make it’ without God’s help. So, just as removing us from the Garden saved us from ourselves, destroying the Tower saved us from ourselves.
We know this today, because we know that God planned to come and unity us to Himself through Christ. True salvation, ascending to heaven, is to be united to God. We can’t ‘get there’ by ourselves, so God halted our ascent. Instead of some brick tower, we ascend the Cross with Christ.
The next time you are considering climbing the Ladder of Divine Ascent (that will be the theme this coming Sunday) consider today’s reading. God wants us to ascend with Him, not on our own. It was just a few days ago we hear Him say, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8.34) If God had wanted us to ‘go it alone’ He would have spoken, pointed and waited for our arrival. He didn’t, and we shouldn’t try. Every time we try on our own, we mess things up.