July 31 - Thursday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time
This parable makes the point that in the kingdom there will, at the end of the age, be a separation of the good from the bad. This time Jesus uses images that this fishing community would understand very well. The fishermen use a net which they cast into the sea. In this way they collect all kinds of fish, some good, some worthless. The good are put into buckets, but the bad they throw away. These perish on the beach in the hot sun.
This resembles the way the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous people at the end of the world. The wicked will be thrown into the fiery furnace which is an image of hell. The wailing and grinding of teeth express the crying and anguish as a result of the eternal damnation suffered by the wicked. We are reminded again that in the kingdom we must expect to find both the good and the bad. We must not be surprised to see serious sinners in the Catholic Church giving bad example and leading others astray. That’s what Jesus taught us to expect and guard against.
Jesus wanted to know if his disciples truly understood what he was explaining to them. They assured him that they did. The apostles, themselves, whom Jesus was instructing, are considered to be scribes. Jesus is equipping them to proclaim the gospel and to explain its contents in greater detail. In their treasury of learning they have the knowledge of the Old Covenant, the Law and the prophets, and what is new in the gospels. Now they can show how the old is brought to completion and fulfilled in the new.
The Scribe in the Jewish religion was a religious teacher, a specialist in sacred scripture and its application in life. Now Jesus uses the word to refer to the apostles in their role of teachers in the Church. Each of us, also, has the duty to pass on that knowledge to others. That is why it is so important that we understand the scriptures so we can explain it to others. The first and third of the Sunday readings are very helpful to show us how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the new.