Fr. Dale Matson
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:47-52) *
It amazes me that often, people see the kingdom as only consisting of the saints. In fact the kingdom contains the wheat and tares, the sheep and goats, the good fish and the bad. Wouldn't it be great if the kingdom only contained the saints? Wouldn't life be easier? We know that the world contains those who are perishing. Perhaps we would be better off seeing ourselves as the tares, the goats and the bad fish. We are both saved and working out our own salvation. We are attempting to run the good race with Christ’s help. The church has both wheat and tares.
When the Gospel is preached, it is a wide net cast out upon the sea and each time some fish escape the net. This Gospel net is harvesting people from all over the world. We have been fishers of men for 2,000 years. The church is a part of the sorting process. It is the presorting in this world. We bring them in, instruct them, baptize them and offer Christian fellowship and discipline. Sometimes the Gospel seed is sewn on rocky soil. Sometimes it is sewn among thorns. Sometimes people have itching ears for a more fashionable gospel somewhere else. The final sorting process will be the last judgment for all of us. At that point the church will give the keys back to the bridegroom Jesus the Christ. There is a hell waiting for the posers and the disinterested. There is not universal salvation and there is hell.
The last part of this excerpt from Matthew is addressed to the apostles and to clergy. We are the masters of the vineyard. We are tenders of the Living and Written Word of God. When we preach the Gospel, we are bringing out the good china. We are serving up both the New and Old Testament, proclaimed, preserved, planted and protected for future generations. Thank You Lord for This blessed vocation you have bestowed upon us.
* Gospel reading for the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28th), priest and theologian 1224