A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 13:47-53
Jesus said to the disciples:
47 “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.
48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.
49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.”
52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
53 When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a net thrown by fishermen to the sea. It catches all kinds of fish including the good and the bad. In the end, only the good ones are gathered. The rest are thrown away.
The parable is a good reminder that Jesus is calling everyone to become part of His body – the church. Yet, not every member of the church is converted. Still, God’s mercy is upon the good and the not so good just as the sun shines on the good and the bad (Matthew 5:45). That is why we have no right to reject anyone. Even Jesus Himself does not send away anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37).
The gospel reading above is a reminder to us about the coming judgment day. Nobody knows when that day will arrive but it will surely come whether we are prepared or not. On that day, God’s justice will prevail. On that day, each one of us will face our creator to await His judgment. Nobody will escape or will be excused except perhaps those whose freedom to choose was compromised by disability, mental or otherwise.
In this life, many people go through life as if no one is watching. Many of us commit sin here and there as if there is no accountability. Still many others think that crime does not pay and that is why many criminals, even after their earthly punishment, return to normal life and never learns. On the day of judgment, nothing will be hidden. If the wicked go scot-free while living on earth, they will not go unpunished. Sooner or later, they will face the consequences of the criminal acts.
Jesus is reminding us through the parable above that while there is time, let us seek and practice righteousness. It may be difficult to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” due to negative responses of some people but let us all remember that the liberty we have while on earth is limited and temporary whereas the peace and joy that we will enjoy in the Kingdom of God is eternal. Indeed, investing in the Kingdom is priceless and it’s forthcoming is worth the wait.
After telling the parable, Jesus used the occasion to tell the scribes that they need to learn new truths and not just memorize the truth in the Old Testament. He wanted them to be like the household head who value both old and new treasures. In John 14:6, He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. The scribes need to listen to Him.
Many times, we are like the scribes and Pharisees who hold tightly to some old beliefs and traditions so much that we have already closed our mind to new insights and new divine revelations. Our lesson is to have an open mind and accepting heart to the outpouring of wisdom through the Holy Spirit.
“Do you understand all of these things”, Jesus asks in verse 51. We pray for help that the Holy Spirit will grant everyone the gift of knowledge and wisdom so that we can be able to understand the Word as revealed through the scriptures as well as discern the things that are happening in our midst including those within the church.
In verse 52, Jesus wanted the scribes to understand and accept the new truth that He was teaching them just as they embrace the truth of the Old Testament. Today, there are many different and often conflicting perspectives regarding the path that the church will traverse. We listen to the position of conservatives as well as the liberals. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we continue to be united even as we try to do the delicate task of balancing different point of views.