17th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord describes the “Kingdom of heaven” with regard to the end game. If we understand the Kingdom as not only the work of salvation, but all the other natural goods that in some way result from that work–a healthy society, solid families, true concern for the spiritual and material needs of others, etc.–we can understand how it is not just identified with the people who are actively working to be a part of it and to extend it. All kinds of “fish” end up in the “net.” Like any society there are good members and bad members, and part of society’s duty is to help all its members be good members of society, even, when necessary, through penal measures applied to those who are bad with the hope of helping them to reform themselves and to not present a danger to themselves or to society.

At the end of history, when the work of the Kingdom has definitively run its course and reached everywhere Our Lord wants it to be (and that, in the end, is everywhere and everyone), no one will remain unaffected or beyond its reach. That could be a chilling thought if we didn’t remember that the Kingdom equates to salvation and a good and just order of things that spreads and takes hold forever. Each person in the end chooses how they’ll end up in the Kingdom, in that “net”: the bad will have squandered all their opportunities to be good and will be cut off from the goods of the Kingdom forever. The good, through their efforts and God’s aid and mercy, will enjoy a beatific life: they will possess God and receive all the promises Our Lord made on the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5:1–12) in full. We must work for the good of others, not just our own good, but in the end each person will stand or fall on his or her own merits and no one will be able to ride on another’s coat tails at the moment of Judgement.

Let’s thank Our Lord for all those opportunities he gives us daily to be good, and let’s pray and work for the conversion of sinners so that we may all one day be found worthy to be a part of the the Kingdom forever.

Readings: Exodus 40:16–21, 34–38; Psalm 84:3–6a, 8a, 11; Matthew 13:47–53.