Day 5: Tower of Babel
Genesis 10:1-32 Noah’s descendants grew quite numerous over several generations, spreading out and forming new nations and peoples, including the Canaanites, the Babylonians, and the Philistines. Many of these nations would stray from God and embrace pagan religious practice and, throughout the Old Testament, would have an adversarial relationship with the people of Israel. According to this account, the descendants of Shem included the Israelites, the Mesopotamians, and the Assyrians; the descendants of Ham are said to be the Egyptians and the Ethiopians; from Canaan, Ham’s son, originated the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Jebusites, and a number of other peoples. The descendants of Japheth populated Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region. (CCC 56-58)
Ch 11:1-9 The Tower of Babel was more than just an architectural endeavor or an attempt to unify the diverse peoples of the earth; this undertaking was a monument to THEMSELVES and their own greatness-an excess of PRIDE in human accomplishment rather than a reflection of God’s rightful place as the ultimate source of creative capacities. For this reason God is said to have confused their languages and scattered them throughout the earth. (CCC 57)
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH is the very antithesis of Babel since, through the common language of humility and charity, people are united to God and to each other. The gift of tongues, as evidenced at PENTECOST, reversed, in a certain sense, the confusion of tongues caused by sin in the construction of the Tower of Babel. Whereas the people were divided and scattered at Babel, they are now drawn together in the communion of the Church. (CCC 775)
Psalm 2 This is a Messianic psalm. Even after the Davidic dynasty of kings came to an end the prophets still foretold the coming of the “ideal king” promised by God…(CCC 436, 441, 745, 2606, 2836)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Key Event 5: People Scattered at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
The people of Shinar seek to build a tower with its top in the heavens “to make a name for themselves”, repeating the pattern begun in the garden of Eden: man’s attempt to achieve divine power and status on his own-”to be like God but without God” (CCC 398).
God uses broken things to make things new, and God uses wounded things to make things holy
These are the last 2 chapters before we meet Abram and Sarai
Nimrod is actually a pretty impressive being who created a kingdom which included Babel (Hebrew word for Babylon)
Nimrod ultimately became a tyrant in a quest for ambition, power, and control.
In the heart of Nimrod was what was in the heart of the people who created the tower of Babel: RUTHLESS AMBITION not for excellence, but for power.
There is a clear teaching from God that excellence is to be sought after.
St. Maximilian Kolbe on the eve of his ordination stated that his #1 goal was to be a saint, and a GREAT saint, even.
The Lord puts that desire for excellence in our hearts and He wants us to cultivate it.
We are made to be saints, and great saints at that.
The opposite of that type of excellence is what we see in Nimrod.
“Before the Lord” can be taken as “In the Lord’s sight” that honors God.
“Before the Lord” can also mean in opposition to the Lord, that in spite of the fact that God gives incredible gifts, people use that gift to accumulate power, control and in pursuit of personal ambition.
The key is not that the people wanted to build a huge tower (nothing innately wrong with that, think of all the awesome Cathedrals in Christianity all over the world).
They wanted to build a huge tower as a name for themselves, and that is the difference between EXCELLENCE and AMBITION.
That is the difference between living a life that glorifies The Lord, and living a life that glorifies MYSELF.
When we do not pursue being the Saint we are called to be, then there is something unsettled in us. We may find ourselves pursuing and chasing after the wrong thing, the wrong reason, and for our own glory instead of for God.
Our calls as disciples of Jesus Christ is that we allow Him to give us gifts and then we use those gifts for His Glory and the betterment of people around us.
We need to strive for and receive the great name that the Lord has for us.
“Be who God made you to be, and be that well”
Don’t be a Nimrod ;)
Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven, thank you so much for your Word. Thank you so much for revealing yourself to us in this story of the Tower of Babel. We thank you for revealing yourself in even the stories of these genealogies of how the first people on this planet continue to create families. And we ask you to please, as you reveal brokenness in families, let us reveal the brokenness in our own families. As you reveal how you have worked through broken people, help us to trust you in our brokenness because we know that you can use all things for your glory and you can use all things even for the salvation of the world. You use broken things to make things new. And you use wounded things to make things whole again. And so we just praise you, Father, in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen."
What do the Tower of Babel and Pentecost have in common? Practically nothing! Actually, they are very much opposites. Yet, it is the points that they are opposite where we find the parallels between them