Today’s gospel the parable of the dragnet is the seventh and the last parable which Matthew used to explain Jesus‘ teachings on the kingdom of heaven. Similar to the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, the parable of the dragnet has a subtle tension between ‘present and future.’ God‘s grace is like a ‘net’ thrown over all, good and bad alike; one does not need to be good to be included in the kingdom. However, once one is within, conversion is required. Those who do not respond positively to God’s generosity will find themselves cast out, as fishermen throw away bad fish. Like the parable of the weed, the parable of the dragnet explains the presence both of good and bad in the kingdom, but also asserts that this situation will not remain in the future.
At the end of his discourse, Jesus asked his disciples: Do you understand what the parables of the kingdom mean? To this question, they confidently answer ‘Yes.’ How about us? Would we answer yes with the same assurance hat he Lord’s first disciples had?
To understand all these things is not a question of human intelligence- that of the wise and the learned- but of spiritual intelligence- that of the humble and lowly, to whom God gives the understanding of the mystery hidden from this world and to act accordingly. It is one thing to hear the words of Jesus at daily Mass, to read them daily for meditation and to study them for comprehension. But it is quite another thing to accept and live out the words of Jesus in the midst of daily challenges, temptations and disappointments. After all, the longest journey one must take is from the head to the heart.
Just as the disciples draw near to Jesus in order to receive from him the explanation of the parables, so too, only being familiar with the one who proclaims the parables can we explore their meaning, and having become his disciples we will be ‘like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’
The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea which catches all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fisherman hauls it ashore. Then he sits down and sorts out the good fish from the bad. The good he keeps, the worthless he throws away. In a sense, all of us are fishermen. Each day we cast out into the formation sea of spirituality, academically, pastorally and humanly. And at the end of the day we have a catch, sometimes small, sometimes large. May we take time in solitude to sift through that catch. And may you Lord give us the wisdom to know what to keep and what to throw away.