Jesus meets the sinful woman at the well and how does He deal with the sinner? He speaks with her to enable her to grow spiritually by giving her opportunity to be honest about herself. St. John Chrysostom offers us thoughts on why confessing our own sins is a blessing to us:
Do you see the physician’s prodigality which excels the loving concern of all human fathers? It is not something burdensome and demanding that he requires of us, is it? No, simply heartfelt contrition, a lull in our wild ideas, confession of sins, earnest recourse to him; then he not merely rewards us with the curing of our wounds and renders us cleansed of our sins, but also puts to rights the person who beforehand had been weighed down with countless burdens of sin. O the greatness of love! O the extent of his goodness! When the sinner confesses his sins and begs forgiveness and gives evidence of carefulness in the future, God immediately declares him law-abiding. (Chrysostom Homilies on Genesis 18-45, pg 43)
Genesis 7:13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth according to its kind, and every bird according to its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And they that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.
“and the LORD shut him in.” The anthropomorphic touches in the story give us that strong sense not just of God intervening in the world, but of the closeness of God to His humans. “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). If we did not have both the J-Source and the P-Source stories (see Source Theory), our imagery concerning God would be impoverished. If the P-Source with its transcendent God had fully controlled the final editing of the Scriptures, we would have no images of the Creator God closely interacting with His creatures. So rather than fearing a scholarly insight like the notion of more than one story being woven into our biblical text, we can appreciate how biblical scholarship actual deepens our knowledge of God and appreciation of the text. The atheistic secularist, who attacks the Faith by mocking the literal reading of Genesis, might find a much more profound truth about what it means to be human when he or she experiences the Christian community accepting and being guided by Truth, whether biblical, historical or scientific. [Christians would benefit also from realizing that the condemnation of the anthropomorphite heresy in Egypt in the 4th Century was in fact a church-wide rejection of an overly literal reading of scripture.] The test of faith is not whether we hold on to the literalness of Genesis even when it contradicts common sense or the knowledge of the world God has allowed us to discover through rational search. The test of faith is do we believe God’s promises revealed through His prophets, His people, His Scripture and ultimately through His incarnate Son? Even if we lack proof for His promises – the scientific method and historical research cannot prove whether or not God’s kingdom is real nor if God even exists – do we believe that God created the heavens and the earth and do we believe the life in the world to come? Do we live as if we believed these things or do we live only for the comforts and pleasures of this world? “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder” (James 2:14-19). The story of Noah and the ark teaches that no matter what happens on earth, it is all part of a much bigger plan of God for the salvation of humankind. Perhaps a literal reading of Genesis is of comfort to certain believers, but it is not the God established test for determining who is being faithful to His promises. Our true task and the true sign of faith is to love God and love neighbor – to love one another as Christ loved us – not to decide whether or not Genesis is literally true.
“…the LORD shut him in..” Certainly the imagery is God intervening in history and yet not confined by history as is His creation – God remains outside of history, or conversely history remains in God. God does not go into the ark with Noah; rather God closes the door behind and Noah and locks him and his family into the darkness of the inner decks of the ark. God has not told Noah that He was going to sojourn with Noah. This is a journey that Noah and family and the animals are going to make on their own, as it were. God will be on the outside of the ark, not within it. He has shut them in, come what may. The journey in the ark – riding out the storm – is a journey for Noah and his family. The God who walked in the Garden (Genesis 3) will not even so much as get His feet wet in this flood. The flood is indeed dirty business, and God will maintain His holiness this time around. As we know in the Christmas story, God acts in a totally new and unexpected way. By becoming incarnate in Christ, God no longer separates Himself from sinful humanity but rather takes on sinful human flesh and the human heart which is ever inclining to wickedness. In the Nativity story, God rejects attempts to drown sin, rather choosing to unite earth to heaven and transfigure and transform fallen humanity making it capable of being God-bearing again. The Theotokos, Mary the God-bearer is key to the salvation of the world.