“The kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.” (Matthew 13:47)
One of the four marks of the Church is that the Church is Holy. When we say the church is holy, we mean that the church is set apart; different from any other human organization or group. The Church belongs to God even though its members are humans; humans are often prone to sin, and various limitations. In this Church, there are good, bad, and ugly characters.
As Jesus put it, the kingdom of God is like a massive catch of fish. It is full of all kinds of fish. As soon as the fishermen drag it out of the water, they do sorting; they threw the bad ones away and package the good ones into vessels for sale or consumption. Jesus told this parable so that we would not be scandalized. He was trying to prepare our minds ahead so that when we begin to see people whose life contradict what they profess, we would not be surprised.
Do not be scandalized by any bad Christian. Rather, be inspired by the good ones and strive to be good yourself. Do not allow another person’s sinfulness to become your standard of judging good and bad. That this man of God or that woman of God is a bad person does not mean you too should be bad. You shouldn’t focus too much on the evil of others nor should your membership in the church be determined by the presence of evil-doers. Just know that there is no twelve without a Judas Iscariot. If there are twelve persons in the church, at least one of them is bad. Just don’t try to be the Judas yourself.
In our first reading, God made Jeremiah go to the potter’s house to see how he was working and made Jeremiah understand that was how God works with us. Even those who are bad are not useless. Yes, those who live scandalously are like clay intended for a purpose but proved unworthy. When the clay the potter was working with became spoiled, the potter reworked it into another vessel.
The point I see here is that even the bad Christians inspire good ones by teaching them via negativa. You may learn from a fellow Christian either how to behave or how not to behave. If you know a Christian who steals, develop a hatred for stealing yourself. If you know a cleric who is unfaithful to his vows, become the Christian who is faithful to his or her spouse. You cheat yourself if you walk out of the church because of something that Jesus Christ already warned us before now.
Hell fire is real. The clay that failed to become a vessel decorating the king’s palace ends up eventually as that used by the blacksmith to control fire. Allow God to use you, don’t be focused on others who are not doing well.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, shape me, use me, mould me, hit me hard until I become exactly what you intended. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of week 17 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Jer. 18:1-6, Ps. 146:2-6, Matthew 13:47-53).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu