Gospel Reflections

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:44-52

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Eileen Burns

Published: July 30, 2017

Do you happen to live in a place on the earth with distinct seasons?  Here in Massachusetts, USA  it was time a few months ago to put away our winter clothes and take out our summer ones. It is a kind of ritual as you sort each piece. Does this still fit? Is it time to give this away to someone who could use it more than I can? Is it too used and needs to be thrown away? We decide which clothes to keep and use again. Lots of times, some of our clothes may invite us into a memory of something that happened while we wore it. Sometimes it is a surprise when you find something that you forgot you had.

It may seem strange to you, but I find great comfort in Jesus’ story of the final judgment in today’s gospel. He doesn’t use the image of sorting clothes.  He uses a familiar image to the fisherfolk of Capharnuam:

"…heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good in buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age."


So, we are promised some kind of life review with new insight.  Perhaps we will see a time on an elevator when we smiled at a stranger and changed their day.  We will learn how important we were to someone and never knew what impact we had. We will treasure good memories of times with others.  Perhaps we will relive memories when the beauty of the earth filled us to overflowing. Maybe a painful memory will appear and we will understand the fullness of what really happened in a new way.  We will be offered forgiveness and healing and perhaps we will be called to forgive. We will sit and separate all of our experiences and keep what has been good from our earth lives. We will also need to let go of some experiences and throw them away for the sake of greater wholeness and ability to be present to God and to others in the afterlife.  Maybe we should start doing some life sorting today?

The term “final judgment” sounds scary. Picturing it as a final sorting of all our life experiences sounds more inviting. Thank you, Jesus, for the image!



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