Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat,
Painting by Simon de Myle,
Painted in 1570
Oil on panel
© Private Collection, France
As it was in Noah’s day
Jesus said to the disciples:
‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.
‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.’
Reflection on the painting
Painted in 1570, this is the only work known to be painted by Simon de Myle, of whom we know very little. The painting is signed Simone de Myle inventor et fecit 1570. Apart from that we don't know anything about the artist, which is interesting in itself as the painting is of wonderful quality, skill and inventiveness of composition. We see animals in pairs leaving Noah's ark after the flood is over. We see birds flying out of the ark filling the skies. We even spot two dragons flying off and a unicorn towards the front of the ship, as the popular belief amongst some people back in the 16th century was that dragons and unicorns did exist 'somewhere'. But as soon as we see the animals leave the ark and being back on earthly soil, we see them picking up their old habits: the lion is devouring a horse; a tree has been flayed; a dead animal is lying in front of two women….
Our Gospel reading today starts with the words 'As it was in Noah's day…'. The people in Noah's time ignored the Lord's warning of judgment. They missed the boat, literally!
The gospel reading this morning warns against being so absorbed in the ordinary things of life that we neglect what is of ultimate importance. Eating and drinking, buying, selling, planting and building, marrying, partying, are all part of life, but they are not of ultimate importance. Above and beyond of all this activity there sits a much deeper reality: the Son of Man.
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Readings related to Luke 17:26-37
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