‘The kingdom of heaven is like a net that collects fish of every kind.’


The Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus tells us, is like a net that is thrown into the sea. A net is indiscriminate – whatever fish swim into it are taken. So too with the Kingdom – everyone is welcome, everyone is taken.
The two most common ways of fishing in Jesus’ time was with a casting-net (or hand-net) which was thrown from the shore and the drag-net or trawl which was let down or cast into the waters from a boat. As the boat moved through the waters the drag-net was drawn into the shape of a great cone which indiscriminately took in all kinds of fish and flotsam and jetsam swept in its path. It usually took several men to haul such a net to shore. What is Jesus’ point here?

Fishing nets scoop up everything as they are drawn through the water. The net doesn’t discriminate between the good and the bad. Jesus’ life is filled with stories of Him fishing for people, both good and bad—like the woman caught in adultery, the tax collector Zachaeus and the Pharisee Nicodemus. But Jesus goes on to tell us that not all who are picked up by this net go on into paradise. The one thing a human being can do without God’s help is reject God. So it is possible that some stubborn souls, even though caught up in the nets, will refuse the grace that would bring them home. Perhaps we might consider today praying for these souls: the wretched and prideful amongst us who know better what is right for them and for everybody, those who outright refuse and deny God. Pray that the kingdom may be manifest to them.

Just as a drag-net catches every kind of fish in the sea, so the church acts as God’s instrument for gathering in all who will come. Just as the drag-net does not or cannot discriminate, so the church does not discriminate between the good and the bad, the useless and the useful. God’s kingdom is open to all who will accept and believe. But there will come a time of separation, at the close of the age, when the angels will send the good and the bad to their respective destinations. Our duty is to gather in all who will come. God, in the end, will give the good and the bad the reward they deserve. God offers the treasure of his kingdom to all who believe.
Jesus called His first followers to be ‘fishers of humanity’ and sent them out to cast their own nets. We are called to exactly the same task. There are opportunities everywhere: family, friends, and neighbors in need. In this way we share our experience of the love and mercy of God in our life. Indeed, work today to make the kingdom known. Not through speeches and harassment, but through the cool, quiet, clean and beautiful way we serve the Lord. Follow the advice of St. Francis: “Preach always, when necessary, use words.” Let us do our part to see that all are brought home.

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