St. Ignatius of Loyola

Mathew 13: 47-53
Jer 18: 1-6 / Ps 146: 1-6

The kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast in the sea and brings in a haul of all kinds of fish.
(Matthew 13:47)

Help us not to fear, Lord Jesus
If we must lead a life of pain,
In working to spread Your Good News
Give us hope of eternal gain.

Jesus said to the people: ‘Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast in the sea and brings in a haul of all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen bring it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the upright, to throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. ‘Have you understood all these?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables he left the district. (Matthew 13:47-53)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage is found only in the Gospel of Matthew. It has no parallel in any of the other three Gospels. It relates the last parable lesson that our Lord taught in this chapter 13 of St. Matthew’s account, which started with the Parable of the Sower. It was as if Jesus started His ‘lecture’ with planting, and ended it with a ‘harvesting’: “This is how it will be at the end of the age,” like a dragnet thrown into the sea, when the angels come to separate the evil from the righteous, and cast the wicked into the fiery furnace.

Jesus used this illustration of a fishing equipment for the benefit of His listeners, most of whom were probably fishermen living along the coast of the Lake of Galilee . A dragnet is similar to what trawl fishermen use, which is conical in shape, and dragged by a boat. It catches all kinds of fish along its path, including flotsam, seaweeds, etc. God’s kingdom, represented by the Church is like a dragnet, open to all regardless of persuasion or moral condition. It does not discriminate. It gives everyone a chance to believe, repent and be converted.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), the founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Without doubt this religious order known as the Jesuits ranks as one of the greatest “dragnets” of the Church since the 16th century, being one of the first to serve in the foreign missions. The pioneering work of Jesuits like St. Francis Xavier in the Far East inspired many others to evangelize Christian frontiers like India, China, Ethiopia, the Congo, South America, and Canada. By the time of St. Ignatius’ death on July 31, 1556, the Jesuits had already numbered more than 1,000 members in nine European provinces aside from those working in the foreign missions. St. Ignatius’ youthful dreams consisted of becoming a high-ranking soldier in the service of the King of Spain. Instead, he became a soldier of Christ the King when, as a result of a broken leg in the battle of Pamplona, he turned to prayer and meditation while he was recuperating. He read books on the life of Jesus and the saints which inspired him to lead a life of labor and sacrifice, in imitation of the works of St. Francis of Assisi and other great monastic saints. His “dragnet” in his life’s mission started small, bringing in an initial following of six former schoolmates in the College de Montague of the University of Paris, where he attained his academic credentials. After Pope Paul III confirmed the Jesuit order in September 27, 1540 through a papal bull, Ignatius sent his companions as missionaries around Europe, creating schools and seminaries. A large number of great men like Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino were products of the Jesuit ‘dragnet’s institution in the Philippines, the Ateneo University, which, up to the present time, has been forming men and women who dedicate their lives for others. They are all the proud legacy of St. Ignatius de Loyola.

Dear God, today we honor St. Ignatius de Loyola, whose short life on earth continues to bring in millions of souls into Your kingdom through the influence of the Society of Jesus, which he founded. May his example lead us to a life of prayer and meditation, in imitation of his extraordinary life, and be men and women for others in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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