How does this parable make you feel? Is this a scary image or a comforting one? What does it feel like to consider being caught by God and separated out like fish in a net?
I think we can think of this parable in two ways: through a lens of fear or a lens of desire. Considered in the first way, we fear the judgment of a God who might catch us and throw us out with the other bad fish. This view of God encourages us to avoid God’s net altogether and to seek the satisfaction of our deepest needs elsewhere, outside of our relationship with God (as if this were possible!).
If, on the other hand, we believe that God alone fulfills the deepest desires of our hearts—to be loved as we are—we might instead welcome this net. We might even reimagine this net, not as something that constrains or binds us, but rather as three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit—who hold us tenderly, in their loving embrace.
This was the insight of Ignatius of Loyola, who, like so many other saints, knew that the deepest desires of our hearts are fulfilled only in loving intimacy with God. The challenge for today, and for our whole lives, is to make choices that lead us closer to God—that honor God’s special place in our lives as our creator and savior.
Gregory Celio, S.J., ’04, ‘06M.Ed.