God’s goodness, even in light of my personal shortcomings, never ceases to amaze me. This morning, I had some fruitful prayer time with today’s gospel from Matthew 13. I was particularly struck by one portion of Jesus’ teachings to his disciples:
The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
I love how visually this image underscores the goal we should be after in this life: not to be “thrown away”. Jesus delivers this same message in another way too, sharing how the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous. But this “net” parable is so perfect for his audience, a bunch of fishermen.
I started pondering my own parables — ways he could have taught me about this topic. Somehow I came up with sorting laundry. What mom hasn’t had a load of laundry wrecked by carelessly allowing one red garment to permeate a load of whites? So we scrupulously sort, the dark from the light — just like that those fishermen sorting through the yield of their net.
The bigger question is how do we end up in the “good fish” bucket instead of the bad one that gets thrown away? That’s our daily struggle. In my life, I have some “good fish” days, but I also have way too many where I’d end up in the bad fish pile, destined for the dumpster. What gives me such great hope on those days is God’s endless mercy, his unceasing willingness to love me despite my bad fish tendencies.
It also feels fitting that we’d have this Gospel on the feast day of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, who was known as an excellent preacher and confessor. Among his many writings, he gave us this pearl:
“I love you, Jesus my love, I love you more than myself. I repent with my whole heart for having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. May I love you always, and then do with me as you will.”
If you find yourself greeting the month of August with a need for a fresh start, I invite you to join St. Alphonsus and me with this brief, yet precious love letter to God.
Let’s line up for Confession.
Let’s get our heads on straight.
Let’s land in the “good fish” bucket when we’re sorted.