Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels, but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
A common model of the Christian life today is that the Church is made up of “real Christians” (i.e. “everybody who fits my personal notion of what a Christian should act like”) and that only these “real Christians” constitute the Church. This is a convenient model for those who wish to distance themselves from all that is embarrassing and unseemly in the Christian communion. When a non-believer confronts you with pointed finger and squinting eye and says, “What about that embezzling preacher or that lascivious TV evangelist?” it’s a wonderfully easy thing to just waltz away saying, “Oh, they aren’t really Christians!” Unfortunately for Catholics, this slick method for eluding difficulties is barred by reality, for today’s verse makes plain that the Church doesn’t just include the people we like. It includes bad fish as well as good fish, wheat as well as tares. It also makes plain that, whoever does the sorting, it ain’t us. This is a healthy reminder, lest we be too eager to drum out of the family of God some brother or sister whom our Father has commended to our mercy and care. Today, embrace all the fish in the net, good and bad, and let God take care of the rest. It is enough to for us to love. He will do the judging.