Thursday of the Seventeenth Week In Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.”
Someone recently forwarded to me a link to an article that lists the names and faces of ten “famous” atheists. I was curious to see who they were and was surprised at who I found: mostly actors and actresses and those associated with the entertainment industry.
I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think. Was I supposed to be impressed? Was I supposed to be surprised by the lack of belief in the entertainment industry? Were they supposed to derail my enthusiasm for God and/or make me question my faith and way of life? Are they the examples I’m supposed to look up to?
I will tell you who I look up to. A simple woman, who may be an intellectual pipsqueak but who shames all intellectuals with her simple faith and is a giant among the “gods” on earth.
Fish of every kind. I just finished watching the sentencing hearing of Ariel Castro, the man who kidnapped, raped and tortured three young women from Ohio and was responsible for causing the deaths (miscarriages) of at least one of their babies. After agreeing to a plea bargain deal that spared him his life, Mr. Castro was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
But what I will most remember from this sentencing hearing is the absolutely stunning testimony of Michelle Knight, one of Castro’s victims. She appeared in court and gave an eloquent testimony of faith, hope, love, healing, courage and survival. I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes.
Without hesitation, she told her tormentor, “I can forgive you, but I will never forget. With the guidance of God I will prevail and help others.”
Wow! In just a few brief minutes, young Michelle Knight demonstrated the brightness of faith; the power of courage and the soothing ointment of hope. This is not "courage" that is found on the big screen or believed by good acting. This is reality.
I, like so many millions of Americans, are proud of her. She is one beautiful knight in shining armor!
The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea. At the end of time, the Lord will come to us in the same way He found His first disciples: as a fisherman. He will catch all of us like fish in his net. The good will be placed in his heart and the bad will cast aside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
But not yet.
The great divorce will not happen just yet. At least not for a while. On earth, the weeds will continue to grow among the wheat. The rain will continue to fall on the good as well as on the bad. The net will continue to catch both good and bad fish alike. Yes, the good will continue to have as their neighbor a cunning narcissist, a hedonist and a rapist. Why? Because earth is not heaven, it exists for a different purpose than that of heaven.
Unfortunately, we have all grown up with the notion that heaven can be a place on earth. It can’t. And it never will be. And those who cannot believe this continue to live in a state of disappointment after disappointment after disappointment.
The end of World War II brought about the beginning of the Cold War; and the end of the Cold War inaugurated the War on Terror. It never seems to end, and it never will.
Our world is a fallen and wounded world. And there are some of us in this world who will address the wounds so that it heals, while others will continue to pick at the scab and never allow it to heal.
The fact that we live like kings but with terrifying neighbors is a clear reminder that we will never be able to “force” or pay our way out of the problem of evil. No elections, or government programs or government surveillance programs and/or subsidies will solve this problem. We will never be able to “force” people to be good or do good. We can only punish them, which is only a reactive and not proactive solution.
Then what can we do? We can do what we do best. We can gather strength from the storms. We can rise above the pain and the hurt. Evil is a screaming reminder to all of us that there are forces beyond our control that operate beyond our sights, but it is also a screaming reminder that God is stronger than death and evil. God is the only one that can eliminate evil, but it won’t happen until He eliminates earth and man. And He doesn’t appear to be in any rush to do such a thing. Thank God!
We know and believe in survival-of-the-fittest. We also believe that man evolves to his best when he is most challenged by his surroundings. But more than anything else, what we have come to believe is that faith plays a key role in all of it.
Michelle Knight is an eloquent witness of the power of faith in God.