rudder 2By Fr. James Walling, CPM.

In wake of this past Sunday’s Gospel: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” I would like to reflect with you that the Church is the “Ark of Salvation.” Divine Revelation states that at one point in salvation history the human race had been smothered out by water except for eight people and some animals floating in a wooden ark. One thought about this permeates my mind: membership matters.

The flood and ark event demonstrates that God is not afraid to hang salvation upon such fragile situations – over such precarious precipices. When Adam and Eve sinned, a time before this flood event, God promised to give us a Redeemer who would be born of the Virgin. The human race must continue in order to pave the way for the Christ to be born. Why does God leave the hope of a Redeemer on an eight person remnant? The simple answer: God is Lord. God is not restricted by his own creation; nor can his arrangements for providing good things for his children be upset by evil.

That being said, consider a practical side. While Noah was building the ark, it was not out of sight from his family members and neighbors. He must have been charged with enthusiasm saying, “The day of reckoning is near. Join me when the time comes. Either get on the boat, or drown.” Membership matters!

Now, kudos to you who know where I might be going with this: “There is no salvation outside the Church.” Instead of stating here the biblical and the Vatican II encyclical references concerning this beautiful teaching (I would not do it justice), please refer to the CD series, The Church is the Ark of Salvation, by Fr. Louis V. Guardiola, CPM, for his survey of Church theology and Mary’s role in it.

Rather, here, simply consider when Jesus, the Son of God, became flesh within the womb of the Virgin Mary, chose to become a member of her body. Membership matters. Either He becomes her son, bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh, or we do not have a Crucifixion, a Resurrection, an Ascension, a Descent of the Holy Spirit – a Church!

Consider, also, such dramas as Sarah, who is barren, conceiving Isaac; and of Elizabeth, who is barren, conceiving John the Baptist. Finally, consider Mary of Nazareth, who is a virgin, conceiving the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why is God so dramatic? The simple answer is: God is Lord. No predicament of creation can hold back God from coming to us. So, when a person questions the integrity the Blessed Virgin Mary has in God’s plan of salvation and in His manner of redemption, I am asking: What part of pregnancy do you not understand?

As you ponder with the Virgin Mary how membership matters, please consider the following:

The statement, “There is no salvation outside the Church,” has for it’s origin: “I am the Vine, you are the branches.”

The bridge joining these two truths can be Jesus saying to His Apostles:

“He who hears you, hears me,”

and St. Paul saying to the rest of us:

“The pillar and bulwark of truth is the CHURCH.”

When the flood crises comes, and come it will in some manner, STAY IN THE BOAT!

Coming up next: Did Noah’s Ark Have a Rudder?

About Fr. James Walling

Fr. James Walling was born in 1968, and is a native of Jackson, Michigan.  He joined the Fathers of Mercy in 1994, professed first vows on August 15, 1995, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 2001.  Fr. James has served in parish work, as a college chaplain, and on the Mission Band of the community before his current assignment as parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Woods. Whitesville, KY.