Fr. Gerard D’Souza, OCSO
17th Thursday in Ordinary Time
The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea which collects fish of every kind. This not an ordinary net. It is not localized. It is so wide and so totalizing a net that is has encompassed everything in the sea. It is silently in place but in the opaque waters of the sea, it cannot be seen. The fish are swimming around happily, quite oblivious to its silent presence. The fish do not know it is there. The first and maybe the last inkling they have of the net is when they are yanked suddenly out of the water. Then reality hits the fish but it is too late. Some go from the water to the fire rather than into the frying pan.
This whole series of seven parables is about the kingdom of heaven. This parable is the last in this series on the kingdom. The image of the net invisible to the fish is an apt image for the kingdom of heaven. It is all about us. It is always present, always. The mistake we make is thinking spatially – we being out here or down here and God up there, out of sight. We must not think the kingdom is as narrow as our idea of it. It always explodes our attempts to contain it. It is a dragnet over the entire sea and we are small fish struggling in a great sea. We might not advert to it but subconsciously we think we can take a vacation from God. That we can be ‘normal’ sometimes and at other times ‘spiritual’ because God is up there. But because we are always in the net of the kingdom, ours is a full time vocation.
This parable is meant to wake us. Now that Christ has come, the kingdom is in place. It is the dragnet in the sea of the world and is silently collecting fish of every kind. Everything is being recapitulated in Christ. Every day, every circumstance falls within the dragnet. Every day we are being invited into the kingdom, every event in the sea is an invitation. And every day we are given the time to change. The net is in place but it will not be hauled ashore until it is full. We have a chance today to change. Of course this parable is not a pleasant one – it speaks of the suddenness of judgment.
But there is another side to it that is consoling for those who love God. We know, says St Paul that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. The net of God’s love is all about us, there is no darkness that is outside it. Every darkness, every trial is already under God’s control, under His Mercy and His Provident care. Moreover we are always in the sight of God, we are always supported, He is always watching over us. He is never far away from our cries.