What goes through your mind when you hear the name of Simon Peter? Perhaps you say, “He was the strong one that Jesus chose to be the leader.” Others might say, “Oh, he was the weak one who denied Christ in his hour of need.” Still others might say, “He was the smart man who correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah.” Then again, some would identify him as the naïve one who tried to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem to die. All of those descriptions can be backed up through the Gospels.
Today, however, we see the patient side of Simon Peter. He was busy washing his nets after a long night of fishing when Jesus asked him to let him use his boat as a speaking platform. If that were not asking enough, then Jesus tells him to put out into deep water and lower his nets. Despite being tired and despite not having been successful the night before, Peter patiently does as Jesus asks. As a result of the great number of fish he caught, he was moved to say to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” So besides being patient, he is also humble and repentant.
Because of his humility and because of his repentance (remember, the first words of the Gospel call us to “repent”), Jesus calls him to follow after him.
St. John Paul II centered much of his long pontificate on the words “Duc in altum.” “Put out into the deep.” Do not be afraid; trust in the Lord, as Peter did. Have patience for what the Lord is doing in us, and go where he directs us.
Today, the Church celebrates another sainted pope, Gregory the Great. He was born in the sixth century to a wealthy family, and dedicated his life to God. Known as a scholar, a prolific writer, and a skilled leader, he served as pope from the year 590 until his death in 604. During his papacy, he put a high priority on mission work, sending many to reach out to spread God’s word to others. He went where the Lord directed him, and in humility allowed the Lord to work through him.
The example of Simon Peter and of Gregory the Great are lights that help us navigate the waters into which we launch ourselves. Put out into deep water and remember that you do not go alone. God is with us; we need not be afraid.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator