Looking within – Thursday, 17th week in ordinary time – Mt 13:47-53
There are two ways to approach today’s Gospel – with fire and brimstone towards others, or with introspection for myself. Let me choose the latter, not because I am afraid to play the ‘fist thumping preacher’, but because that method may be effective till one reaches the exit doors of the Church.
The seventh and last parable of chapter thirteen mirrors the second parable, the wheat and the darnel. Both parables draw their imagery from every day Palestinian occupations, namely farming and fishing. Both parables deal with eschatology or the end times. Both parables end with God’s reapers or angels who weed out the evil and sort out the good. The kingdom is not insulated from attack. We could either be attacked by Satan who plants evil, or we could be attacked from within; everyday people around us are plotting destruction!
There is no getting away from the reality of these parables as a whole. The seven parables allegorically attempt to cover the reality of the kingdom of heaven. It is a kingdom whose reality includes attack, search, temptation, and judgement. The kingdom is not all hunky dory and fearful as the closing parable may seem; it is not merely a parable of doom.
So what then is this parable about? Dragnets, as their name suggest were fishing nets which were dragged along the bed of the sea and in its wake, picked up everything. Made of flax cords, they were equipped with lead weights at the bottom and wooden floats at the top. In mentioning specifically the type of net, Jesus was telling us that the kingdom is not a place where people are picked and chosen; the kingdom comprises of all sorts. We don’t get to choose the people we want to live with in the world.
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