3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
6-9 year olds
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 (sometimes called the Sea of Tiberius) which is a large lake in Israel.
Simon and Andrew are out in a boat on the water, catching fish in their nets. James and John are in a boat with their dad, probably pulled up on the beach because they aren't fishing; they 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.
Jesus says to one pair of brothers and then to the other,
James and John, in their dad's boat pulled up on shore, can probably see and hear Jesus clearly when he calls them. They are able to hop out of the boat onto the beach and follow Jesus into the town.
Peter and Andrew, though, are actually casting their nets into the water, so they have to be away from the shore over deeper water. From where they sit, bobbing up and down on the gentle waves, Jesus appears to be a small figure on the beach. Sound carries across water, so it is not hard for Jesus to be heard. His voice carries across the water to them.
What do they do?
Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Seriously? Immediately?? Can you imagine, Peter and Andrew, dropping their nets into the boat, jumping into the water, swimming to where it is shallow, then running 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 happens.* 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 Jesus, so exciting, so full of possibility. (Not scary at all, because James and John's dad does not object to his sons leaving.) Everything is truly right about Jesus. It is like the air almost crackles with electricity about him. Peter and Andrew, James and John are pulled out of their boats, almost like by a magnet.
Peter 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; this is an ordinary day. They know what is going to happen. There is one path.
And then Jesus calls to them. And suddenly, there is nothing 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 could move to another village; they will one day have to decide where to live. 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 have 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 Peter jumps into the water fully clothed. On one occasion he actually puts his clothes on before jumping in!