Surviving the Dragnet

Thursday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Ex 40: 16-21, 34-38; Mt 13: 47-53

Dc. Larry Brockman

Why are you all here this Morning?  I suppose if I told you that you were all here because you were all believers, you could all identify with that.  So, all of us here this morning have something in common.  We believe and are seeking the Kingdom of God.

Now, Jesus is talking about all of the fish caught in a dragnet.  Notice, He is not talking about all of the fish in the Lake- but only the fish gathered in the dragnet- which he likens to the Kingdom of God.  So, all of the fish in the dragnet are those who claim to believe and are seeking the Kingdom of God.  There are a whole lot more fish in the lake than that!  But guess what- not even all of the fish in the dragnet are going to be saved, are they?  The fisherman, who are acting in the role of angels, are tasked with separating the bad from the good.  And that’s a very sobering thought.  Because, you see, it takes more than believing and wanting the Kingdom of God to actually get there.

Then Jesus addresses his disciples, the fisherman, with the story about the head of household with the old and new treasures in his storeroom.  I don’t know about you, but that hit me cold.  Just what does that have to do with the parable of the net?

Well, you see, the disciples are being admonished in terminology they could understand that they are the intended scribes of the new way.  Jesus wants them to draw from all of the good teachings of Moses and the Prophets as well as the good news of the Gospel that he is teaching them as they go out into the world and preach the Kingdom of God.  And our first reading is a perfect example of some of the good things in the Old Testament.

The upshot of the first reading is this:  Moses is above all obedient to the Lord.  He builds the Lord’s dwelling place exactly as he has been told; he moves the ark with the commandments into that dwelling; and the Israeli nation proceeds on faith exactly the way the Lord told them to proceed- only when the cloud lifts from the tent during the day.

Can it be that simple for us?  The commandments of the Lord are inscribed for us in the Catechism- the accumulated learning by the Church of all that the God of Moses, Jesus, and the experiences of the Church over the last 2000 years have taught us.  We have only to be obedient to what the Catechism teaches before we move out on the pathway of life.

You know, for the last two years, I have participated with a number of men from the Parish in some Catholic Scripture Study International Bible Studies on Wednesday nights.  These studies involve Scripture, yes.  But there is also a module on the Catechism each week.  That module shows which paragraphs in the Catechism draw from the Scriptures we are studying; and defines various concepts that the Scripture is unfolding by referring to what Popes and Doctors of the Church have taught about them over centuries.  It is has been both fascinating and awe inspiring to see how the Church’s teaching evolved.  And so, I am convinced that it can be that simple- to be obedient to what the Church teaches.

Notice I said simple- not easy.  Indeed, obedience can be hard; and one of the hardest parts is having sufficient knowledge to put the teachings in context.

All of us are here today because we are believers and seek the kingdom of God.  But to make the cut, we also need to be obedient to God.  It’s simple, but not easy.  Yet, as our Responsorial Psalm says:  “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty”.


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