The Parables of the Kingdom - Part 4 - Mons Joao Cla Dias EP
IV - Parable of the Net
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which 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 vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."
We continue listening to Jesus speaking in the vicinity of the Sea of Tiberius. According to experts, its waters contain almost thirty species of fish. Fr. Manuel de Tuya, OP, accurately describes the historical and geographical reality of this parable, analyzing, according to Levitical legislation, the fish that were considered impure - due to the absence of scales, etc., and others classified as bad because they were defective. Hence, once the net had been brought to the beach, the fishermen removed the fish, and the good ones were placed in vessels, while the bad ones were discarded.
This scene, so common in the daily life of His disciples, is highlighted by the Divine Master, to make it clear to them that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is indispensable to be a good citizen of this same Kingdom, which begins here with the supernatural life. Only in this way will we avoid being excluded at our Particular Judgement, and therefore, in the Final Judgement as well. "in other words, the Church is compared to a net, because it was entrusted to the hands of fishermen, and by it everyone is drawn from the waves of this present life into the Eternal Kingdom, that they should not drown in the depths of eternal death."
This Church assembles all kinds of fish, because all men are called to forgiveness: the wise and the foolish, the free and the slave, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. The net will be entirely filled, that is, the Church, when, at the end of time, the destiny of the human race will have been determined. Hence it continues, "when it was full" they drew it ashore, and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. For as the sea signifies the world, so the seashore signifies the end of the world; and as the good are gathered into vessels, but the bad cast away, so the chosen ones are received into the eternal abodes, while the reprobates, having lost the light of the inward kingdom, are cast forth into the outer darkness. Now, the net of faith holds good and bad mingled together; but upon reaching shore, those with in the net of the Church shall be revealed."
It is not only according to St Gregory that this "net" can be interpreted as an image of the Church; many authors share this opinion. The Church is composed of the just, but of sinners as well. The evil that we sometimes find in its human part should neither alarm nor scandalize us; it has been forseen. Despite this, the Church remains HOly in its essence, because it is divine. Our concern should be seeking this "pearl" and finding this "treasure", and abandoning all attachments to be good "fish" in this net.
The task of separation will fall to the Angels, on the Day of Judgement: the good on the right, the bad on the left. Holy priests will be separated from sacrilegious priests; observant religious from the sensual; honest judges from the unjust; the prudent virgins will be received, the foolish rejected; faithful spouses will be removed from among the adulterers; in short, the elect will be put on one side and the reprobates on the other.
A comprehensive description of the eternal torment of the damned in hell, and a contrasting account of the heavenly delights that the good will enjoy in eternal life would be appropriate here. However, there will surely other opportunities to deal with this important theme.