Everyone has their own Tower of Babel; a telling question to ask is when you expect it to fall. Because of original sin, which falsely uses God’s beautiful gift of free will, it is even in the midst of all the great gifts of life and existence and everything else, that the discord of sin is transferred and sown. We erect our own personal Towers of Babel within our hearts, rejecting consideration of God’s will, and our own wonderfully designed limits.
“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”– Genesis 11:4
Road of Perdition
It is in sin that we decide to try to “make a name for ourselves” out of fear of being “scattered all over the earth”. How often in our own lives are there instances of sin where out fear of pain, exposure, discomfort, or embarrassment we decide to turn away from the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow the road to perdition. In reality, in these moments, we are losing sight of the fact that we do not belong to ourselves, but rather are sons and daughters of God the Father. It is in the mad craving to maintain what we judge to be a level of control, that this loud pride blocks out the small voice which assures us of God’s loving concern for us; for “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind1.
Because He made us and loves us, and knows us fully, God desires what is best for us, and His plan is the one in which He perfectly loves everyone. Sometimes, as seen in so many great biblical stories, this perfect will in flawlessly mingled justice and mercy, allows for what many humans would consider to be terrible acts, and indeed, without the element of this divine outlook, they indeed are.
“If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says.”– Genesis 11:6-7
As a result of God’s action here, the peoples in question are scattered across the Earth. It was in this act that God justly punished the people for presuming that there were no limits set upon their race, and that God their creator and provider was not considered to be above all things; but it was in His mercy that God merely confused and scattered the people, so that they would not be destroyed for such a presumptuous transgression, and would still potentially enjoy the good gifts He had yet to give them.
In an epic fulfillment and reconciliation of these events, Jesus was sent by the Father to be the all-powerful sacrificial lamb through whom these transgressions could be forgiven and sanctified. It is through Jesus that this rift of original sin between human will and that of God’s will is to be bridged. In words given to a crowd of His disciples, Jesus says:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”– Mark 8:34-35
This statement then, is the answer to the story of Babel. For it is not as the people of Babel acted, scared of death and grasping fearfully onto the idea of progress and worldly greatness, that man finds his purpose. But, rather, in the daily denial of self to take upon himself the responsibilities and sacrifices set down for him by God.
Let us bring this truth to our prayer this day. It is in trusting God completely that man can truly flourish and receive His graces. Let us bring whatever tower of presumption, pride, willfulness and any other sin or evil spirit that we would erect as a testament to our perceived greatness, and give them to our Father. So that He may through His Son, heal us from our confusion, and unite us once more to His amazing will.
1 Psalms 33:12-13
Photo is The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563