There is a great scene in the made-for-TV-movie Jesus of Nazareth (Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, 1977). Jesus is crossing the Sea of Galilee, using the boats of Simon Peter and the other fishermen. Each person gets out of the boats and is standing on the shore. Simon Peter, alone, is still standing in the boat. He looks at the sea, his nets and the boats. He looks at Jesus. Jesus’ face invites him to follow but allows him to choose to do so freely. Simon Peter’s face is pained as he struggles to decide what to do. Finally, he leaves the boat and begins to follow Jesus.
What is it that helped him to decide? It is hard to answer this question. What we can know is that it was difficult to leave all that he knew and all that he was good at to follow someone he knew little about. He knew his past and present. What would his future hold?
Why did Simon Peter and the others follow Jesus? Perhaps it was the mystique of Jesus. Perhaps it was how Peter felt known and loved by Jesus. Perhaps it was that Jesus presented Peter with a choice that he could freely embrace without coercion or force. Perhaps Peter saw the joy of others who chose to follow Jesus. Perhaps it was the challenge of the invitation “to catch others.” Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John would already know something about this, having “been caught” themselves by Jesus!
Jesus is still passing by. Jesus still stops to look at us. Jesus still calls each of us by name. Jesus still invites us let go of whatever hinders us from following him. Jesus stills call us to participate in “the great catch,” helping others to be “caught up” in the life and grace of the Reign of God.