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July 30, 2015

The good news for today

Jesus said to the disciples: “The realm of what is right is like a fishnet thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it gets full, people haul it ashore and sit down to put what is worthwhile into containers. What is bad they throw away.” (Matthew 13, 47-48)

Jesus offers poetry. “Heaven”—He says—is like a fishnet. How? It initially includes everybody—every kind of human being. Like a net flung widespread onto the sea’s surface, heaven—the realm of what is right—spreads to include the whole human race.

Some people ARE good, some are not. That is your fact to start with. That fact comes with a second, more important fact—that all of us are both good and bad.

You and I are not supposed to separate good people out from sinners yet. Saints and sinners share the “sea” of our world—but it is only “at the end” that the good people, the saints, get separated from the bad ones, the sinners.

Some of us Christians choose to assign sins in this life to fellow humans. It seems clear that some really bad sinners need to be identified and corrected about their salvation. Some Hebrew Prophets mention correcting and helping sinners to repent.

This text warns you to do otherwise. You are the fisherman with your fishnet. You deal—in this life—with all the saints and sinners of your life. But, aren’t you a saint-and-sinner, too? Aren’t you, like most others, someone sincerely trying to be good, and aware of your own shortcomings? Do you need or want your sins identified and corrected by others? No, you pretty much know your guilt, your innocent mistakes and your weak faults, your deliberate meanness and your sins of omission.

The Good News offered here is that you are not called to separate. You are just the net inclusive of both good and bad—not judging others, but welcoming them—so that we are “all in the same boat”! Any division will happen at the “end” [“the end of time” misunderstands the Semitic world; in that world, Jesus understood the “end” to mean at the end of—as-far-as-you-can-see).

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