“Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers…’” (Gen 9: 20-25)
This passage, about exposing the “nakedness” of one’s father, is read in church today, on Wednesday of the fourth week of Byzantine Lent. And it cuts like a knife, particularly in our day. Because today I am often tempted to rush to expose and analyze every bit of “nakedness” of the “fathers” we are given today, not only but particularly in the Church. I feel “entitled” to demand more of bishops and priests, when they fall short of our standards. Any misstep, any dysfunction in church-administration, or in the handling of modern-day issues, I am tempted to approach with unmitigated disappointment, unsympathizing discussion, and a subtle presumption of my own moral superiority.
Today let me reflect deeply on the passage above, which calls me to “cover the nakedness” of my father. Not because he is perfect, but because he is my father. And I would want my children to do that for me, if I had children and had fallen short in some way, for all to see. I think about this today, as I continue to pray for the upcoming Holy and Great Council, covering with prayer the “nakedness” of my church-family.