What details do you notice from the Gospel? When we pray with Scripture, we all probably dive in a little too quickly with the question, “what does this mean for me?” We should probably first ask, “what does this mean?”
So what do you noticed about this passage? Make a mental image in your head. Where is Jesus? What is He doing? Where is Simon in relation to Jesus? Jesus is teaching on the shores of the lake, and Simon isn’t too far away. The Scripture says that he was washing their nets. Do you think He was also listening to Jesus teach? Can you picture him washing the net with his head slightly cocked to hear what this teacher is preaching? Jesus approaches Simon and asks to get in the boat. Notice the Scripture said earlier that “the fishermen had disembarked.” This is kind of inconvenient for Simon, yet he puts out a short distance from the shore. Jesus has Simon’s full attention.
What do you think Simon thought as He heard this man teach? Did he already consider whether Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah? Do you think he was going to go home a changed man because of Jesus’s teaching? Another detail to be mindful of. Jesus and Simon already knew each other. Right before this, Jesus was at Simon's house. Right before this, Jesus had healing Simon's mother in law.
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Umm… thinks Simon, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Simon calls Jesus “Master,” so we know that Simon trusts Jesus… or at least trusts what Jesus has to say. And he obeys. He obviously doesn’t expect much out of this cast, I picture him throwing the nets overboard with a tired sigh.
“When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.”
Now what does Simon do? He’s heard the Truth proclaimed; he’s seen the impossible with his own eyes. “He fell at the knees of Jesus. … When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him.”
It’s so important to look at these details when we pray because they inform the story of the calling of Peter. Jesus didn’t just walk up to Simon and say, “Alright, pack your bags. We’re going to preach the Kingdom.” No, Jesus first preached to Peter, and then He demonstrated His power. He prepared Peter to be called.
Now, we can ask the question, what does that mean for me?
I don’t believe Jesus asks anything from anyone without first offering something to them. You can see that in Peter’s story. He heard the truth and then he saw Truth in action. We can only personally accept the Christian faith when we’ve heard it. We might know the basic outline, Jesus died for our sins. But do we know where we fit into the story? Have we encountered Jesus in such a way that we know we are loved, we are cherished, we are known?
Peter heard the truth, and then Peter experienced the Truth. For Peter, it started as the catching of fish. Then he saw Jesus do the miraculous over and over again. For us, it starts at the Resurrection. We might not have been there to see it with our own eyes, but that’s the first miracle that Jesus performed for you. Not necessarily first in terms of chronology. He made the world for you, He became incarnate for you, He instituted the Eucharist for you, but none of those things bear much weight without the Resurrection. In the Resurrection, God offers you complete healing. That’s the gift He offers you at all times. It often takes a while for us to learn how to receive it, but it’s always there.
How many of us or our friends/loved ones are just waiting for our “moment.” I hear people waiting for Jesus to break into their hearts like this or that famous person with an amazing story of salvation from drug addiction, unchastity, atheism, or whatever other life of sin. We can wait and wait and wait all we want, but Jesus extends His hand to us always! As St. Augustine says, “late have I loved you.” When we know the Lord, any moment we spent without Him is a moment wasted. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Our English translations of Paul’s words don’t do justice to what he said. Where we read “loss,” Paul said dung. But not just dung. Paul used the expletive.
Powerful stories of conversion like Peter’s and Paul’s are meant to be encouragement to us. We don’t need to catch 300 fish to believe in Jesus. We don’t have to go blind and be knocked off our horse to believe in Jesus. If that happens to you, praise God! Let Him be glorified. But know that if that’s not your story, Jesus doesn’t want you any less. Don’t waste another day being lukewarm or indecisive. Give Him your radical “yes.”
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization