MT 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 

“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.

Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Jesse Barrett ‘96, ‘99 J.D.

My experience with a rod and reel is very different than the fishing experience of a first century Jew.

They used a huge linen net, 200 feet long and eight feet wide, with floats at the top and weights at the bottom. A large boat would drag it into the Sea of Galilee and 10 men standing on shore—five on each end of the net—would haul it in. This would be done at night by torchlight, so the fish wouldn't see the linen and attempt to escape. The net would capture everything in its path and, ideally, hundreds of fish would be flopping on the shore. The fishermen would put most of the fish in baskets for eating or processing into fish oil, while those without scales or fins (which Jews were forbidden from eating) would be discarded. The fishermen would cast the net out again, and pay heavy taxes to the authorities the next day.

So, the fishing done by Jesus's disciples was a grueling job. It was hard and expensive work to make or buy the net and boat; catch and sort the fish; transport the fish for sale; and pay the taxes and the workers. When Jesus said, "the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown in the sea," his disciples would have understood that building the kingdom is hard work. It requires many laborers, working at inconvenient hours, spending much money, and running into obstacles worse than torn nets, bad weather, and heavy taxes.

We should expect nothing less in our efforts to spread the Gospel. But, like the fishermen in the parable, that's our job.

The fishermen, moreover, did not know if their efforts would be successful. They might have a great catch of large fish, they might catch only fish that they would have to throw away, or they might catch nothing but still have to pay all the workers. After all, that's why we call it "fishing," not "catching"! Jesus never promised that our work to build his kingdom would be successful. Yet again, like the fishermen, that's our job.

Unlike on the Sea of Galilee, though, we don't sort the fish. It is our job to spread the Gospel through our words and example, using the most effective means we can devise. It is not our role to determine who is a "good" or "bad" fish. That, as Jesus says, is the angels' job in the kingdom of heaven.

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Father Bob Loughery, CSC 

Loving God, you know us and have called us. May we always seek the path of justice, the way of peace, so others may know of your goodness and kindness. Grant us your forgiveness when we sin; show us your mercy when we fail. May we always seek your kingdom until at last we come to rest in your eternal home. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 


St. Nazarius, you were the young man who learned the faith from St. Peter and were killed for sharing it with others--pray for us!