The murder of the priest in France is both sad and frightening. It is difficult to find anything but tragedy in the whole situation. Even the Pope made the statement, "Some might think it is war of religion. It is not. All religions want peace. Others want war.” Is there even the slightest ray of hope or goodness in this situation or is it all just a horrible, black happening in a cold universe?
Today’s Gospel sheds light on this question.
In Matthew 13:47-53 it talks about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a giant net thrown into the water hauling up everything in its path. This net would be about a quarter of a mile long and six to ten feet in depth with floating cork on the upper side and weights on the lower. One team would keep an end on shore while the other team took the opposite end out into the water and then swing it around ending up a distance down the shore. Then the two teams would haul it ashore and everything in the mouth of the net would be trapped. The fishermen would then have to sort through that which was good and preserve it, and that which was bad and discard it.
The fish are all of humanity. The fishermen are God’s angels. The net is the final judgment that all must face. Notice that both good and bad alike are caught in the net. That means that the Kingdom of Heaven exists in the this world right along side the kingdoms of earth. There is goodness and grace in the world right now. The Kingdom exists whenever and wherever you live it.
At the moment the story in France was taking place, both kingdoms were present and in action. To many people, it appears that the kingdom of this world prevailed. But we know that the matter was settled about 2,000 years ago. It is not unlike the Japanese soldiers that were found still fighting WWII on islands years after they lost and the war over. They may still fight and appear to win a battle on some island, but the matter is already settled.
As we all are, both the priest and his attacker are to face death. When the final net is dragged in, that is when the victory of that particular battle will finally be revealed, not earlier this week. So we do not fear. We love life and are not afraid to die. Death for the Christian is an entrance into true life where there will not longer be a mixing of the two kingdoms.
We mourn for the priest and that community. We also know that there is still hope there and goodness to be expressed. We pray for his attacker because he chose a path destined for loss. We have no need to answer with anger and hate.