The Church Catches ’em All!

Matthew 13:47-50
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.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • aquinas74

    Oremus for His children.

    My Queen and I relentlessly pray the Rosary for:
    “Your greater glory, dear Jesus, for the Poor souls in Purgatory, for the elimination of abortion, euthanasia, and homosexual unions; for the single parents and their families, for brutalized spouses and their families, for our troops, all police and firemen, for the persecuted Christians and other religions, for the Obama administration, for the rapists and murders and their victims, for the hopeless, lonely and jobless, for the prisoners and their keepers…”

    “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”

    Chesterton once observed, “It is not a question whether Christianity has been tried and found wanting, it is a question whether Christianity has much been tried.”

    Yours truly,

    Phil & Sandra Ferguson, O.P.L., Parents of seven children and twelve grandchildren – and one in escrow.

    Thank you Jesus for carrying us as we both move our feet, one in front of another.

  • noelfitz

    Mark is always so sound.

    This article reminds me of what was written in our “Sunday Letter” some time ago.

    “You say you do not go to Mass because there are so many hypocrites there. Do please come as there is always room for one more”