I don’t normally talk about my past other than to say I wasn’t the best Catholic or Christian and I made a lot of bad choices. But the last few days have brought back some memories of when I was younger, mostly about my Dad.
Are you a good fish, or a bad fish? If you ever spend much time watching various reality shows, like the one about the crab fishermen or the one where they go after all kinds of fish, you see either at the end of the day or after they bring the nets up, the crew will go through the catch and separate the good fish from the bad fish. They throw the bad fish back into the water. Just like what we read in Matthew 13:47 – 53 where Jesus tells a parable to his followers.
“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.
The lesson here should be pretty obvious, at the end of the age, the net will be cast and God will make a judgement as to who goes to heaven, and who doesn’t. We will all be put in one or the other categories, or as Jesus says, into one of the vessels or back into the sea. There is no middle, well unless you count what we Catholics believe, and that is the concept of Purgatory. If you want to learn more about what Catholics believe about purgatory, go to this page on Catholic Answers. But after you spend your time in Purgatory, you will go to your final destination.
I have to believe that many of us never think about things like this. We don’t worry about what will happen to us after we leave this earth, I know I never did until a few years ago. Whether we don’t truly believe or just don’t care, we live our lives for the “now” and never concern ourselves with “later”. We don’t care about each other, unless it benefits us. I know, this isn’t everyone, but certainly a good portion of us.
We should all spend time to contemplate where we are going to end up after we die. Are we going with the good fish or the bad fish? If you don’t believe in an afterlife, perhaps you need to give it some serious thought.
When I fell off the truck and began thinking about death and what happens to us, I came across Pascal’s Wager. Pacal was a skeptic and philosopher who proposed that it would be a safer bet to bet on God’s existence and be wrong then to bet on his non-existence and be wrong. If you live life with the intention of going to heaven, making good decisions and following the teachings of God, and you are right and there is a heaven, you will get there. If you bet wrong, then you still have lived a good life. If you bet there is no God and live for today, not worrying about whether you will go to heaven or hell, and are wrong, you will be spending eternity in a very unpleasant place. (An article by Peter Kreeft on Pascal’s Wager here)
I know which wager I am taking, I’ll be shooting for the pile of good fish.
Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees
The Divine Comedy: Inferno; Purgatorio; Paradiso (Everyman’s Library)
The Seven Storey Mountain
It’s Sunday which means it’s time for Reflections on the Mass Readings! Today’s readings are brought to you by God, and they are 1 Kings 3:5, 7 – 12, Romans 8:28 -30 and Matthew 13: 44-52.
What would you ask for? If God came to you and said “I will give you anything you want, no strings attached?” what would you ask Him for? Would it be for riches, fame, health, to be a winning professional golfer? In the first reading this is what God asked of Solomon.
“The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, ‘Ask something of me and I will give it to you.’”
Solomon could have asked for anything, but all he asked for was wisdom. He was looking for the wisdom to be able to govern God’s people, to judge them fairly, knowing the difference between right and wrong. How many of us would ask for this today? I am willing to guess probably not many. Yes, I know I am cynical, but I believe that so many of us have been living in a world full of materialism, individualism, hedonism and minimalism that we would think of “things” first, not wisdom. As I have said before in this blog, we no longer distinguish between right and wrong, I fear we may no longer know the difference.
Elsewhere in Matthew we are told:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” – Matthew 6:19 – 21
Yet most of us would still ask for treasure, for things,believing they would make us happy. Since finding my way back to God, (I know you get sick of me telling you that) I have truly come to realize that “things” are not the most important things in life. There have been times when I have had nothing, and I thought things could get no worse. Yet, I got by, something always would happen to get me out of the hole I was in. That thing was Jesus. As the passage from the top of this blog says, God won’t let us fall so far we can’t get back up.
We spend all out time gathering things, things that we can’t take with us when we go. I don’t remember where I heard this saying, but it goes: “I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.” I often think if I had read the Word of God when I was a lot younger, I would not have made the mistakes I did. There are some passages especially which I wish I had learned, studied and understood. The whole of Matthew, Chapter 6, being one of them. I spent a good part of my life, pursuing “things”, trying to gather treasures here on earth, instead of trying to gather treasures I could store in heaven. Because of this, I wasted much of my life, not taking the time I needed for my wife and family. It was always work, work, work. We need this, we need that. And no matter what we had it was never enough.
Now, I realize there are things that are more important. Faith, love, hope, charity, family and friends just to name a few. In my case I have alienated my family and never had time to make true friends, but I am working on these and the others as well. and how did I get from Solomon asking for wisdom to this? Hmmm, I am not sure, sometimes I think the Lord just makes my bone weary fingers typr things.
Actually, there is a connection. I should have asked God for the same thing as Solomon did, for Wisdom, to know right from wrong, to know what is good, and what is important. Not that God ever asked me what I wanted, but I could have done this through prayer, as I have been doing for the last few years. I truly believe this would have made my life different. But, then, maybe I had to go through all I have to get to where I am now, closer to God.
After all, God does have a plan for all of us.
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Today’s Gospel reading was from Matthew:13:24 – 30. This is Jesus telling another one of his parables. It talks about a man who is planting his wheat field. After he and his workers sow their seeds, one of the man’s enemies comes around at night and sows seeds for weeds among the wheat. When the seeds begin to grow, the man and his workers can see there are both weeds and wheat sprouting. When the workers ask the man if they should pull the weeds, he replies “No, for you run the risk of pulling up the wheat as well.We will wait for the harvest and separate them then.”
What is the meaning of this parable? You don’t have to be a wheat farmer to understand it, that’s for sure. From where I sit, I look out the window to a fence between my house and the neighbor. On my side of the fence I have various plants along the fence. Each spring, usually right after the first warm day, all kinds of things begin to spring up from the soil. The problem is when they first come out I can’t tell what each sprout is. I have to wait a week or so before I go out and start the weeding. If I were to start before the plants were large enough for me to be able to tell the difference, I would run the risk of pulling up the “good” stuff by mistake.
For you wheat farmers out there, you also know that there is a weed called Tares or Darnell. This would be the weed the enemy sowed. As you can see by the picture to the right, the two look very similar and it is not until they are fully grown can you tell the difference.
Waiting creates another problem however, when I wait too long, the roots of the weeds and the roots of the good stuff will become intertwined and when I pull a weed, I also may pull something good. I take this chance only because if I wait too long, it isn’t very attractive and the neighbors complain. It seems they believe in “Love Thy Neighbor” as long as he keeps up his yard. When it comes to the parable of Jesus, he says to wait until the wheat is ready to harvest and then they can separate the weeds from the wheat and the weeds will be burnt. The owner of the field knows that his enemy has come and sowed the weeds in with the wheat.
What does this parable mean? It means several things.
- God plants the wheat but the enemy, Satan, comes in the dark of night, when we are not awake and plants the weeds. They grow and try to choke the good wheat.
- If we try to remove the weeds, we run the risk of pulling up and throwing out, the good with the bad.
- When it is harvest time, God will separate the wheat from the weeds and burn the weeds while putting the wheat into His house, Heaven.
We can relate this to our lives today. When we are born, God makes us all the same, we are all good seeds with the potential of growing into wheat. But as we grow, we allow Satan to come into our lives and sow weeds which try, and I know in my case succeed, to choke out the good, trying to kill it. With some of us though, it is not always easy to tell the difference, whether we are weeds or wheat, we can go back and forth. I believe most of us are like this. Therefore, if we decide to pull the weeds we could pull up wheat instead. In the case of people, we might destroy a good person who happens to be in the weed stage.
We must strive to become wheat and stay wheat as much as possible. God is keeping track and when the harvest comes, He will know who is wheat and who is a weed. He will separate them and the weeds will burn in the fires of hell while the wheat will be stored in heaven. God knows none of us are perfect. He knows there will be times when we might become weeds, but He also knows if we are doing our best to be wheat, and when Judgement Day comes, He will use this to help in his decision.
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