Homily for July 28th, 2016:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea.” It is what we call a dragnet. Dragged along the bottom, it collects everything in its path. In
Matthew’s gospel it immediately follows the parable
of the weeds among the wheat. Both parables have a similar message, one which Jesus’
first hearers would easily have understood. They were familiar with dietary
laws, which separated unclean foods from those they were permitted to eat. Sea
creatures without fins or scales were unclean, and hence could not be eaten. So
once the net is brought ashore, there must be a selection. The clean fish are
put into buckets and taken to market. Everything else is thrown away. “Thus it
will be at the end of the age,” Jesus tells us. “The angels will go out and
separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.”
In the parable of the wheat and the weeds they do the same with the weeds.
God is not mocked, Jesus is telling us. The power of evil, of which we see signs daily in the morning headlines, and on the evening news on TV, is temporary. In the end, goodness will triumph, Jesus is telling us, and evil will be burned up in the flames of God’s justice.
That too is the gospel. That is the good news.