If you have ever visited the Sistine chapel, you will be impressed by the elaborate paintings by Michael Angelo. Amidst these paintings of creation and the flood, we find a marginal event depicted, namely that of the drunkenness of Noah.
Us finding the event to be marginal is deeply rooted in our inclination to read major events of Israel and the life of Christ while discarding the more personal events. The ancients however would have looked for a deeper meaning of these personal stories that might help with gaining new insights into the saving works of Christ.
Noah and Christ:
Many Church fathers see Noah as a type of Christ who saves the world. The ark Noah builds is as a type of the Church in which the believers are called to remain intact amidst the storms of the passions of the world. It might be obvious how Noah is a type of Christ in the context of the flood. It is significantly harder seeing Noah as a type of Christ when the former is drunk and naked.
In being naked, Noah reminds us of the crucified Christ. In being drunk, Noah did not choose to become naked but was rather taken to such state because of his drunkenness. However, Jesus’ nakedness was willful as He gave Himself up to endurance of suffering and the shame of nakedness. If there was a motivation behind Christ’s coming, it is not the carnal wine which Noah consumed but rather the wine of divine love.
Ham, Noah’s son, flesh and blood, mocks his father. Christ’s kinsmen also mock Him. Many of his kinsmen, the Israelites, become part of the Church, His flesh and bones (Ephesians 5:30). Noah’s nakedness was covered by two of his children while Christ was covered by Joseph and Nicodemus who covered Him in linen cloth.
Our Duty to Ourselves and the Other:
We are called to recognize Christ in every human being. When seeing the nakedness of the less fortunate manifested in their needs they cannot cultivate, we are called to see Christ in them and cover them in the spirit of Joseph and Nicodemus. We are to also recognize our own nakedness which comes in various forms such as need for financial and emotional support. We are called to accept help from others in humility as the Word Incarnate Himself accepted to be covered as a corpse by Joseph and Nicodemus. If you need help of any sort, there is no shame in seeking help (especially amidst a global pandemic). In reality, you are receiving the honour of receiving help as Christ Himself did.