(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
So often when we listen to the Gospel, we hear about Jesus and his disciples. Disciples are people who follow. How does someone come to be a disciple of Jesus? In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about the moment when Simon Peter becomes a disciple.
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.
All those people, pressing close to Jesus—we can almost feel how much they want to hear the Word of God. We can picture the crowd pressing closer and closer to Jesus so that they can hear, pressing him closer and closer to the water's edge! All those people pressing in on Jesus, demand his attention. We wonder how it is possible for Jesus to notice a small group of fishermen washing their nets.
He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore.
How surprised Simon Peter must be! Jesus notices him even though his attention is demanded by the crowd of people. He speaks directly to Simon Peter. But perhaps Jesus only notices the boat. Maybe Simon Peter only matters to Jesus because he has a boat.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
What does Simon Peter think about while Jesus teaches the crowds? Does he think only about keeping the boat from rocking too much on the water or does he listen to what Jesus is saying? Does he wonder who Jesus is? Maybe Simon Peter wonders if Jesus remembers that he is there.
When he had finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
Simon Peter must be surprised again! Jesus does remember that Simon Peter is there. Again, he speaks directly to Simon Peter. But perhaps Jesus only wants to go fishing. Maybe Simon Peter only matters to Jesus because he has nets.
Simon Peter says,
“Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Simon Peter has worked all night long; he must be very tired. He must want to go home to bed. He does not know if Jesus only notices him for his boat and nets, but Simon Peter listens to Jesus. Something about Jesus makes Simon Peter want to do as he asks, even if he does not matter to Jesus as a person.
When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats so that they began to sink.
If Simon Peter was surprised before, now he must be amazed! So many fish! A ridiculous amount of fish—so many, the boats are beginning to sink!
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken
Does Simon Peter want Jesus to leave because the boats are sinking? No. He says, "I am a sinful man!" The great abundance of fish makes Simon Peter aware of his sins. He knows that this abundance is a sign of who Jesus is.
Simon Peter has sat in the boat unnoticed, listening to Jesus teach.
He has let down empty nets and has been amazed by the sign of abundance.
Simon Peter knows that he is in the presence of God.
In the presence of God—the One who is so Good—Simon Peter knows he is not good enough.
In the presence of God—the One who is so Big—Simon Peter knows he does not matter.
In the presence of God, his sinfulness and his littleness make Simon Peter afraid.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
Jesus speaks directly to Simon Peter. Jesus tells him not to be afraid. Now Simon Peter is certain that Jesus notices him. Jesus sees him.
Jesus tells Simon Peter that he will be catching people. Simon Peter may not know what that means, but now he is certain that he matters to Jesus. Jesus wants him.
Jesus sees him. Jesus wants him. Simon Peter knows he was wrong.
When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Of course, Simon Peter follows Jesus. He is good and he matters.
We wondered how people come to be disciples. What do we know now? Jesus speaks directly to them, and they know he sees them and he wants them. They know they are good and they matter.
When does all this happen? When do people become disciples?
We remember that for Simon Peter, it happens after he spends time listening to the Word of God. We spend time listening to the Word of God, too.
Does Jesus speak directly to us? Does he see us? Does he want us?
We can be certain that we are good. We can be certain that we matter.