The Great Fish

I confess that I am a lost soul. So lost, indeed, that I wonder whether it makes sense even to hope of being found, or finding anything really at all. So often when I hear those with faith discuss salvation I wonder, salvation from what? We take on faith our births and gradually come to a sense of self; we flicker, flame, dampen and die. I've no confidence in a life to come. I see no need to wager as did Pascal; there is nothing about human experience that leads me to consider that death is anything other than annihilation. "Come sweet death," Bach wrote.

But still I am puzzled and drawn the accounts of the historical Jesus. The parables attributed to him resonate with me and fascinate me in a way that feels much like a beckoning. The kingdom of heaven is an image I grapple with almost daily. Is it at hand? What can that mean?

The parable of the Great Fish leaves me stone coldand sheds no light. It is reported in the Gospel of Matthew, 13: 47-50, and reads as follows:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Weeping and gnashing of teeth? We all know sorrow and grief. I know loss and the weight of what cannot be changed. But angels? Fire? I recall as a child worrying about the afterlife. Neither option appealed: Heaven and endless Hosannas struck terror. Imagine the boredom after several million years of the same old, same old. And Hell? Somehow that seemed less terrifying than heaven. Wouldn't pain eventually cauterize? Isn't the sense of eternity really just an illusion?

Time did not come to an end after the crucifixion of Jesus. The generation that saw his death has passed, and the generation after that, and after that ... on and on into two millenia of time's passing. There is no kingdom to come, and, if there is, worrying it seems pointless. I was unprepared for the life I lead when decades ago I tumbled from a womb.

This parable falls on deaf ears and eyes that cannot see.

Comments: (4)

  • And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when th...
    And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Imagine.It is more than something outside of ourselves, like reading a great novel or watching the best in the world battle the Course in Augusta. Within you lies the most exquisite, mysterious, profound, experiences of all life. He took it up a notch. It isn’t just something you will witness. Eternal life is more than an amount of time. It is a quality of life that transcends this world. It is God Almighty, He Himself, The I AM, The Alpha and The Omega, The Bright and Morning Star, The Creator, The Lord of All, The Lord of Lords, The Good Shepherd, King of Kings, The High and Lofty One, The Rose of Sharon, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit living, dwelling, remaining, abiding eating drinking and dining with us, always. It is having LOVE overflow to others out of the abundance of the love we have been given. It is not forced on us. It is the sweetest cup of cool water we ever tasted after a long hard workout in August. It is the most spectacular sunset. It is the greatest relief of tears we ever shed. It is our child's arms around our neck. It is so gentle we hardly notice. It is so beautiful it is like a dream. It is so real it is like a dream. I used to walk around asking others who knew me if I had lost my mind. "No, you are just really happy and kind, now." (I quickly turned away, found a private place and cried. I was kind? Me, kind? Dear God, Dear God, thank you one million times one million! It was a miracle.) He himself living within a human being is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven in our here and now. It is the beatitudes in our insides. It is having love in our hearts, not hatred. No matter how good our lives had been, they were hellish compared to whatever the heck this is. If we could pick to have dinner with whomever we wanted-all expenses paid-by simply asking, we wouldn't have a lot to lose if we asked.God Himself makes an offer to meet with us, if we ask. What is the worst that could happen to us if we asked? What is the worst that could happen if we never inquired.
    Posted on April 11, 2009 at 2:24 pm by Anonymous
  • Sometimes it is helpful to play "make believe." So...
    Sometimes it is helpful to play "make believe." Sometimes our best counsel to ourselves is the counsel we would offer to those we love the most. "How would I want my daughter to tackle this problem? What would I say to her if she faced this dilemna? What would be the best way for her to look at this situation?" Sometimes I like what I come away with and sometimes I don't. Usually it is pretty solid advice, though. Let's pretend, shall we? A dear loved one will die suddenly in a terrible car accident tomorrow. It is inevitable; there is nothing we can do to stop it. Since we are not certain if there is a god or a heaven or hell, would I want this person to prepare as if there were or would it be wiser, more noble for him (for me) to ignore that possibility entirely? Don't we have to have faith first? (No, faith itself is a gift of god.) Just in case there is a heaven waiting, why risk it?
    Remember, the drunk knows. He has proof. Remember what he said? "Oh there is a hell alright. I have no doubt about that. It's right here, in my heart."
    Posted on April 14, 2009 at 6:28 pm by Anonymous
  • Everything changed after his motorcycle accident. ...
    Everything changed after his motorcycle accident. He could have died down there, been just another accident statistic. He wasn't expecting to be hurled headlong into facing his own mortality that day, not right at the very pinnacle of his success.
    I Believe In You
    Bob Dylan
    They ask me how I feel
    And if my love is real
    And how I know I'll make it through.
    And they, they look at me and frown,
    They'd like to drive me from this town,
    They don't want me around
    'Cause I believe in you.
    They show me to the door,
    They say don't come back no more
    'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to,
    And I walk out on my own
    A thousand miles from home
    But I don't feel alone
    'Cause I believe in you.
    I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter,
    I believe in you even though we be apart.
    I believe in you even on the morning after.
    Oh, when the dawn is nearing
    Oh, when the night is disappearing
    Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.
    Don't let me drift too far,
    Keep me where you are
    Where I will always be renewed.
    And that which you've given me today
    Is worth more than I could pay
    And no matter what they say
    I believe in you.
    I believe in you when winter turn to summer,
    I believe in you when white turn to black,
    I believe in you even though I be outnumbered.
    Oh, though the earth may shake me
    Oh, though my friends forsake me
    Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.
    Don't let me change my heart,
    Keep me set apart
    From all the plans they do pursue.
    And I, I don't mind the pain
    Don't mind the driving rain
    I know I will sustain
    'Cause I believe in you.
    Posted on April 15, 2009 at 6:13 am by Anonymous
  • "The kingdom of heaven is an image I grapple with ...
    "The kingdom of heaven is an image I grapple with almost daily. Is it at hand? What can that mean?"
    Death can come at anytime: The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Will your soul's eternity be spent n Heaven or Hell? There's not much time to prepare as our Life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity.
    Life after death clues are too many to ponder. Ask a loved one now deceased to leave pennies showing you they are still thinking of you. You might be surprise at how many pennies start showing up in unusual places
    Posted on April 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm by Anonymous

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