3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): They Have To Go See
(Adults, you could begin by lighting a candle and reading the Word of God to your child. Alternatively, you could simply read the reflection all the way through, pointing out the parts that come straight from the Word.)
This week in the Gospel, we hear Jesus calling four people to come follow him. There are two pairs of brothers: Andrew and Simon (also known as Peter), James and John. All of them are fishermen. They spend their time fishing in the Sea of Galilee—a large lake in Israel.
Simon and Andrew are out in a boat on the water, catching fish in their nets. James and John sit in a boat with their father, probably pulled up on the beach. They are not fishing but instead are fixing their fishing nets. Each one of them is doing an ordinary thing. These are tasks that they probably do every day. It is an ordinary day.
And then Jesus comes walking along the shore.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus calls to one pair of brothers and then to the other. “Follow me,” he says.
James and John, in their dad's boat pulled up on shore, can probably see and hear Jesus clearly when he calls them. They can easily hop out of the boat onto the beach and follow Jesus into the town.
Simon and Andrew, though, are actually casting their nets into the water, so they must be away from the shore over deeper water. From where they sit, bobbing up and down on the gentle waves, Jesus must appear to be a small figure on the beach. His voice carries across the water to them.
What do they do?
Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Immediately?? Seriously? Simon and Andrew drop their nets into the boat, jump into the water, swim to where it is shallow, run through the waves until they reach the beach? Soaking wet, they arrive, panting and gasping for breath, ready to follow Jesus wherever he may be going.
It seems kind of funny and a little bit strange, imagining them jumping into the water, but this is what they do.* They stop what they are doing and immediately follow him.
Why? What is it about Jesus that makes them follow?
There must be something so attractive about him, so exciting, so full of possibility. (Not scary at all—James and John's dad does not object to them leaving his side.) Everything is truly right about Jesus. It is like the air almost crackles with electricity about him. Simon and Andrew, James and John are drawn out of their boats, almost like by a magnet.
Simon and Andrew probably got into their boat that morning knowing exactly what they were going to do that day. They will fish, bring their catch to market, go home for dinner, go to sleep. They have it mapped out, no need to think about it—an ordinary day. They know what is going to happen. There is one path.
And then Jesus calls to them.
And suddenly, nothing is ordinary at all. A whole range of possibilities opens out in front of them. They have no idea what is going to happen. They have to go see. They follow.
James and John are probably fairly young because they are still working with their dad. They have many choices still to make in their lives. They might marry some day; they might move to another village; they might take up woodworking instead of fishing. They might have dreams; they might be making plans. There are many paths.
And then Jesus calls to them.
And suddenly they are not interested in choices. Many paths become just one path, brightly lit by this man. They have no idea what is going to happen. They have to go see. They follow.
Is this the way Jesus works, then? On an ordinary day, when we are doing ordinary things, does he meet us where we are? We think we know what is going to happen, and then Jesus takes us in a different direction? We have many dreams, and then Jesus gives us one brightly lit dream?
How will we know?
We will feel that attractiveness, that excitement, that possibility. We will not be scared, and our family will approve, because everything is truly right about Jesus. It will be like life almost crackles with electricity about this choice, about this decision. We will be pulled out of our ordinary lives, almost like by a magnet.
We have no idea what is going to happen. We have to go see! We follow.
*This is not the only time Simon-also-called-Peter jumps into the water fully clothed. On one occasion he actually puts his clothes on before jumping in!