In the Old Testament we read that at the time of Noah, since the entire human race was corrupt and full of lawlessness, the floodgates of the sky were opened and for forty days heavy rain poured down on the earth; symbolically, the earth received the water for forty days. It is more a baptism that it received rather than a flood: a baptism that washed away the sinners’ iniquity and saved Noah’s justice. In the same way then the Lord today, as at that time, gives us this time of Lent so that during the same number of days, the floodgates may open and flood us with the flood waters of God’s mercy. And once washed by the salutary waters of baptism, the sacrament will illuminate us; as in the past, the waters will take away the iniquity of our sins and confirm the justice of our virtues.
The situation of today is similar to the one at the time of Noah. The baptism is a flood for the sinner and a consecration for those who are faithful. In baptism the Lord saves justice and destroys injustice. We see this clearly through the example of the apostle Paul: before being purified by the spiritual precepts, he was a persecutor and blasphemer. Once washed by the heavenly rain of baptism, the blasphemer died as well as the persecutor and Saul too; only then did Paul, the apostle, the just one, come to life …Anybody who lives Lent religiously and respects the Lord’s commandments, will see sin die in him and grace live; he will die as a sinner and live as a just man, just as if one succeeded the other.
Saint Maxim of Turin (?-about 420), bishop