Thursday in the17th Week in Ordinary Time A
Parable of Net
(Feast- St Ignatius of Loyola)
Today we have a gospel passage whose background is very familiar to the people of Galilee. People who were living around the lake Galilee were very familiar with the evening scene at the sea shore when the fishermen come back from the sea after a day’s labor. They sit at the sea shore to separate the good fish from the bad ones. They take the good fish home while they throw away the bad fish.
At the outset itself, I wonder at the awesome ability of Jesus to draw home the theme of his preaching using the local imageries familiar to the common man. When he speaks to the fishermen he uses the image of boat, net and fish while talking to the farmers he uses the images of wheat, mustard seed and weeds. When he preaches to the scribes and the learned he quotes the scriptures in abundance and reinterprets them which they may understand. We have to imbibe this spirit of Jesus when we are preaching the homilies interpreting and reinterpreting the scriptural passages. We have to bring the theme of the passages to the level of understanding of the audience. Otherwise the preaching will just hang in the air. It will not go into the heart of the people.
Bible scholars say that the word used here in this passage to denote net is ‘sagene’ in Greek. Interesting thing is that this word is used only in this passage in the whole New Testament. “Sagene is a large net with weights on the bottom and floats on top, hanging vertically in the water, enclosing all fish larger than its grid. After a pre-determined time its ends are drawn together and the net pulled up on the beach. Two boats would be used to set out the large net.” That was the kind of net used by the fishermen of Galilee. Here the net represents the preaching of the Word of God. It is preached to the whole world as the net is cast into the sea. On the final Day of Judgment nobody can have the excuse that we did not hear the word of God. It is preached to all. And more over it should be preached to all. That is the responsibility of the disciples. All the possible means should be used to preach the word of God so that the gospel message may reach all the corners of the world.
When the net is thrown into the sea, it gathers “fish of every kind” (Verse 47). As the word of God, Gospel is preached to the world, it attracts all kinds of people. It may contain the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the week and the strong, the faithful and the unfaithful. It may gather the white and the black, the brown and the yellow. No condition and barriers are put into the entry of anybody in to the kingdom. The doors of the Kingdom of God are open to all irrespective of caste and creeds, social positions and the race. Are we putting barriers and blocks on the gates of the Kingdom? Let everyone come in. The final sorting out of the good from the bad is to be done at the end of the ages by the angels (v.49). That is not our job. Till then let us do our work of preaching the Kingdom of God to all in all possible ways.