Last Sunday, we heard how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. In the verses that follow, Jesus travels to the town of Capernaum and begins his ministry of teaching and healing. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches from Simon's boat. Jesus turns to Simon and instructs him about where to lower the fishing nets. Simon and others have been fishing throughout the night and have not caught anything. Simon protests, claiming that such an effort would be futile, but ultimately obeys Jesus and lowers his nets into the deeper water as directed. Notice here that Peter calls Jesus by the title “master.” He already recognises Jesus as a person of authority. They catch so many fish that the nets begin to tear; Jesus' presence has created abundance out of scarcity, just as it did at the wedding feast at Cana, which we heard at Mass just a few weeks ago.
Simon Peter becomes a follower of Jesus immediately. He calls Jesus “Lord” - the title given to Jesus after his Resurrection - and protests his worthiness to be in Jesus' presence. Today's Gospel, therefore, marks a turning point in the relationship between Jesus and Peter. Two of Simon's partners are also named as witnesses to the event described in today's Gospel: Zebedee's sons, James and John. Yet Jesus' words are addressed only to Simon. Jesus gives Simon a new job, telling him that he will become a different kind of fisherman. No longer will he catch fish; instead he will catch people. In these words, we hear the beginning of the leadership role that Peter will have within the community of disciples. Peter was chosen for this role. His task will be to bring others to Jesus. Already he is doing so; the Gospel tells us that all the fishermen with Peter also left their nets and followed Jesus.
We continue to speak of Peter's leadership and influence in the Church today when we call the pope the “successor of Peter.” We participate in the mission of the Church when we bring people to Christ through the example and positive influence of our lives.