In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus gives another image of the Kingdom. (Yesterday’s Gospel had two others.)
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.
I spent some time praying with this parable at my retreat last summer. Unlike some of the other parables of the kingdom, I had a difficult time with this one for a long time. And I realized it was because I resisted the idea of anyone being thrown away from God. So I saw it in two possible ways:
First, we are the net of fish – and the bad fish represent our bad qualities or non-virtues that get tossed away or the temptations of the enemy spirit that are gone when the kingdom reigns.
Second I saw me as the fisherman and the good fish as people I can help and the bad ones as fish that need to be left to others.
I was comfortable with those as well as with the image of the net being thrown into the sea and catching fish of every kind – i.e. will reach everywhere and everything; the Kingdom of God will be omnipresent.
What I resist strongly, but what I believe is in this kingdom parable – and not in any of the earlier ones on Matthew – is a note of warning. The Kingdom of God will cover the face of the earth and if you are not part of it, you will be tossed.
I don’t see that as a judgment, but I do see it as a warning.