THE VOCATION OF SIMON PETER
With the freshness characteristic of one who transmits it to us, and which he has heard narrated directly from the mouth of Peter, Mark tells us that one day Jesus “walking along the Sea of Galilee saw Simon” who was mending his nets. For his part, Simon was so occupied in his activities that he did not know that he was destined, thanks to a loving and profound vision, to go and fish in other seas.
Luke amplifies the scene a little more and introduces things in a different manner: Peter had spent the night in his ship trying to catch fish but sadly he didn’t get “anything”… (he caught “nothing”). In the morning, tired and oppressed he stopped fishing and he preferred his ship to be transformed into a pulpit so that Jesus could preach from there to “the entire multitude that gathered round him to hear the word of God”. The same ship that for a whole day and night was not capable of catching any fish now, thanks to the “words of eternal life” which are pronounced from it fishes men along the shores of the lake.
Finishing, Jesus said to Peter: “Launch out into the deep. Peter was so accustomed to the Sea of Galilee that he could hope for nothing, but when he least thought the Lord ordered, “Throw out the nets to fish”. It seems contradictory that a carpenter would teach an experienced fisherman how and where to fish. If the whole night which had been the most favorable time to catch something had resulted in failure, now, at this time of day, it seemed absurd, apart from something extraordinary happening.
Therefore, Peter, who knew his office, which as was his custom always to reclaim, at the same time he would obey:
“We have caught nothing, but at your word I will cast out the nets.”
Having done this the result was surprising: “they caught a great quantity of fish”, so that the nets were breaking. That morning they caught more fish than they expected.
Then they asked help of James and John who were in the other ship, but even though they did “they filled so much in the two ships that they nearly sank”. Peter could not believe it. The evangelist tells us that he was “full of awe” and of surprise.
“Seeing this Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus saying ‘Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinner!’” (Luke 5, 8)
The capitalist mentality could reproach Peter, the Jew at not being able to take advantage of the opportunity to establish a great business career for himself: Why not invite that man who seems to know the deep mysteries of fishing to form together a fishing company which would be the most important in the Sea of Galilee…? Even a powerful international firm could be formed in the whole Mediterranean: FISHERMAN’S COMPANY. But, everything happens the opposite way. While Peter says: “Depart from me…” Jesus responds “Come with me…”
Jesus, who also was a Jew, won the game. It was not Simon, the fisherman, who invited Jesus to fish but it was Jesus who invited Peter. He had in mind or in his heart to establish an international society and therefore he invited Peter to go and fish other seas: “Come with me and I will make of you a fisher of men”. Certainly he meant a very different “Company”, and even contrary to the two interests, material and capitalist, of this world.
On the other hand, Jesus would not take his profession from Peter. Simply he would transform it.
Many fear to follow Jesus for fear of losing what they possess. The first thing that Jesus does is to respect. Before everything he begins to transform us, and afterwards little by little, he gives us everything we need and takes what we don’t need.
We note something very interesting: Peter was called by Jesus in the most successful moment of his life, when he was just after being engaged in the greatest fishing success of his career, when he had reached the high point of his profession as fisherman…the best stage of his life. But, that man of 30 years, showed transparently in his look something divine which attracted irresistibly, and his words were “words of eternal life”. Therefore, “immediately, leaving his nets, he followed him.”
Jesus did not call any failure, but a man who had experienced triumph. The subtlety of the Evangelist is marvelous. Peter follows Jesus because, without doubt, he presented something much superior to his professional success. That is, comprehend that to follow Jesus values more than the greatest of human triumphs; through no other way would he follow him.
Peter, Disciple and Pastor by Father Menard