"The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea."
Today's gospel for Thursday in the 17th week of Ordinary Time is a final parable describing the Kingdom. It is one of the images that Jesus taught during his preaching days. It is a way he presents the end of the Kingdom here on earth. In the bottom of the seas there is always more than fish to be gathered up in the nets. What is pulled into shore or into a fishing boat is not all that is on the bottom of the sea. What is kept on board once the fishermen begin to sort the catch, is what is found suitable for their mission. Likewise with the Kingdom of God: there comes that moment when some sorting takes place when we are called before our God. Those who belong will not be separated from the Kingdom of heaven.
The question that is often asked "How can I guarantee myself that I will welcomed into God's heavenly Kingdom? When will that event take place?" Well, it is clear to us that we never know the "day nor the hour." So, what is it that we need to do to be ready for that hour and day when it come into our lives? Let's think for a moment. Why did Jesus accept his Father's will that he come to live among human beings? What was the real purpose in his crucifixion? Surely most Christians do believe that Jesus came among us and died a painful death FOR EACH OF US! His death was the guarantee to us that the Kingdom of heaven could be ours to have if ......... If what?
To be welcomed into the Kingdom of heaven, we have been taught, we have to be free of sin. Our souls need to be "washed clean" by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. And how do we earn this for ourselves? A hard question, yes, but an easy answer.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION. So often it is evident to priests hearing confessions that we wonder at the number of saints with whom we live and work. So few individuals take the time to examine their conscience and then bring themselves to the Sacrament. And then there are those who ask pardon for "losing my temper, Father, and that is all." That is all after not seeking reconciliation for six month stretch of time. Perhaps our congregations are in need of helpful and positive reminders of the ways that we fail in our living the life God asks of us by following the 10 Commandments and the laws of our Church.
I would ask this of every adult, married or single: in the last six months have you lost your temper with your spouse or with a friend or colleague? Have you spoke unkindly about another person? Have you told "white lies"? We gain our strength as committed followers of Jesus when we take the time to clear out the "trash" we have allowed to accumulate in our hearts and souls.