July 30, 2023
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 13:47–50
This parable is the third of three parables Jesus tells in a row. The first compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a “treasure buried in a field.” When a person finds it, they sell everything they have so as to buy that field. The second parable likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a merchant who is in search of fine pearls. “When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” In both of these parables, the discovery of the Kingdom of Heaven is a great joy. The person discovering the treasure or the pearl is so elated that he is willing to trade all that he has so as to obtain it.
The third of these three parables, however, is much different. In this case, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a net that gathers all people at the end of the age and separates them, the good from the bad. The parable then concludes with a frightening image. The wicked will be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
In the end, for those who enter the glories of Heaven, there will be unending joy. And this fact must be understood so as to draw us into those riches of grace. Anticipation of such a gift should motivate us to diligently seek out the many graces our Lord wishes to bestow upon us. But sometimes we need a bit more of a nudge. We can easily become complacent in our life of faith and our search for God’s will. For that reason, Jesus includes the third parable, outlining the consequences some will endure at the end of time. Though it might not be a happy thought, it is a holy thought because it reveals God’s definitive justice and judgment at the end of time.
Do you believe in the Justice of God? Do you believe that He will exact definitive judgment upon those who reject His holy will in this life? Do you believe that Hell is real and is a possibility for us all? If this thought is difficult to accept, then it might be worth further prayerfully pondering this third parable. Justice and judgment are real. If we are not fully motivated in life to diligently seek out the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, then we should at least honestly face the reality of the consequences that await.
Reflect, today, upon the glory, beauty and splendor of God. Try to put your eyes of faith upon the Treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven. Allow this prayerful meditation to inspire you to make obtaining the Kingdom of Heaven your sole mission in life. But if you struggle with this joyous discovery, then do not hesitate to reflect upon the potential consequences. The Lord speaks of these consequences of God’s justice and judgment for our good so as to keep them from becoming our reality.
My just Judge, You see all things and know all things. You know my heart through and through. Please cleanse me of every sin and all complacency in life. Fill me with a holy zeal for Your Kingdom. May the joy of the discovery of You fully motivate me to remain diligent in my journey to Heaven. Jesus, I trust in You.