Chapter 9: Gennesaret {Jesus: A Pilgrimage}


Welcome to our virtual book club! We’re reading Fr. James Martin’s bestseller, Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Each week we will tackle a chapter and look forward to a lively discussion together.

Jesus book conversation

St. Peter has always tugged at my heart. He really came to life for me when I saw actor James Farentino portray him in the television mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Farentino captured Peter’s impetuous nature and the large heart that smoothed over the rough edges.

Fr. Martin writes about Lake Gennesaret (aka the Sea of Galilee, aka the Sea of Tiberias) in chapter 9 of his book and brings up the famous scene of Peter (then Simon) willing to go out in the boat again after fishing all night without success. He writes,

“You want me to try again? In this same boat we were just fishing in? If you say so, Jesus.”

That gives Peter such a childlike quality, again very appealing.

In the end, Peter receives far more than he gives. Fr. Martin writes,

“Peter and the so-far-unnamed others let down their nets, which are suddenly filled to the bursting point—so much that the boat almost sinks and they have to all on their partners for help.”

Peter stepped out in childlike faith, not even asking for anything specific from Jesus. Just that openness alone opened the coffers of God’s generous grace. Jesus knew what he needed more than Peter did and he gave generously, lavishly.

Peter is overwhelmed at the power in this man Jesus and begs him to leave. He becomes acutely aware of his sinfulness as if a bright spotlight was suddenly shining on his life. It would be a life-changing moment for Peter as Jesus assured him that there was no need to fear for he was about to set off on a great adventure.

Peter is a role model for me, yet another example of why stepping out in faith and saying “yes” to God’s invitation in joy is what obedience is all about. In my mind obedience has gotten a bad rap. If you asked Mary what obedience was, she would probably echo Peter’s response: that of accepting a loving invitation and then setting out on a great adventure.

Obedience doesn’t have to be a grim set of rules and regulations, do’s and don’t’s , set down by dour people with puckered lips. Obedience can instead be that sense of anticipation when your skin tingles, that bit of healthy fear that gets the adrenaline going. You may have no idea where the invitation will take you but if you trust that the One inviting you has only the best in mind for you, well, how can you say no? Every “yes” leads to adventure. Sure, it won’t all be sweet and happy but it will lead to glory when we see the face of God and he thanks us for being good and faithful servants.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Has God ever surprised you with unsolicited generosity? How did you feel when you recognized the gift he had given to you?
  2. How do you feel when that bright spotlight from God shines upon your soul? How do you respond?
  3. What is your first reaction when you hear the word “obedience?” How does that word make you feel?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 10: Happy. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Jesus Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Susan W. Bailey


About Author

Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.


  1. Sandi Belleque on

    Once at my late night chapel time I was feeling like I really didn’t know the love of God in a real way. I started thinking of my wonderful life and my equally wonderful husband. I asked The Lord “why am I so lucky? What did I do to deserve such a wonderful man?” God said to me “because I love you. I love you so much I’ve given you your husband to love you.” It was such a real conversation that I will never forget it. When I’m down about my faith I remember that night.

  2. Yes, God has often surprised me with his overflowing generosity. Today my husband and I renewed our vows. 35 years of marriage.
    There have been surprises, too. I call them blueberry muffin moments! Ever since the time someone surprised me with my favorite muffins, just when I was feeling alone and sorry for myself. Out of the blue, God lets us know we are not alone.

  3. It doesn’t take much to surprise me. My sister says that one day I’m going to discover sliced bread, it’s my nature to enjoy life’s gifts and it goes without saying that God surprises me everyday. Sometimes it’s in an answer to a prayer or a surprise visitor or a belly laugh from my infant niece. I love those moments but then there are others when God seems to demand a little more from me and I want to run away. I try to convince Him of my nil credentials but He has a relentless way of convincing me to press forward. Apparently His grace and my co-operation are required. Obedience seems like such a scary word from a different era. I think a truer word for me would be acceptance. In today’s gospel Jesus told Mary Magdalene to stop holding him because He was going to the Father. He reassures her at the lowest moment with the greatest news! She wouldn’t have reported that out of obedience, she would have announced the news out of sheer love!

    • Amen! The definition of obedience needs to be broadened. I look upon it as saying yes to a new adventure. Whenever I get the desire to do something that seems foolish or defies the odds (like when my DRE asked me to teach high school CCD when I was terrified of teenagers) I always think, “I wonder if this is an invitation from God.” And it usually is. 🙂

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