Translation of the Holy Gospel According to Luke
At that time, when the multitude pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Genesareth. And He saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going up into one of the ships that was Simon’s, He desired him to draw back a little from the land: and sitting He taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said to Him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes and their net broke: and they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them and they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of fishes which they had taken: and so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed Him.
A Message From The Venerable Bede’s Homily X
And He saw two ships standing by the lake;
The two ships by the side of the lake represent the circumcised and the uncircumcised, which Jesus is fittingly said to have seen, for in both peoples the Lord knows who are his own, and the hearts of these he pilots out of the vicissitudes of this world to the tranquillity of the future life as if to solid shore. And this he does by seeing them, that is, by compassionately visiting them.
And going up into one of the ships that was Simon’s, He desired him to draw back a little from the land: and sitting He taught the multitudes out of the ship.
The ship of Simon is the Early Church, about which Paul said: He who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:8). Rightly he said one ship, for the multitude of believers had one heart and one spirit. From this ship he taught the people, just as the Church, on the basis of its authority, teaches the nations up to the present day.
Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
The fact that first he asked Simon to put out the ship a little way from the land signifies that the Gospel ought to be preached with moderation to the people. The preacher should neither teach them of earthly matters [alone], nor yet should he depart too far from earthly things into the profundities of the sacraments, let they fail to understand these things.
And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes and their net broke:
Their net was broken because of the multitude of fishes, just as now so many reprobate enter into the confession of faith with the elect, and these rend the Church with their heresies. The net is broken, but the fish are not lost, because God preserves his own even among the temptations of their enemies.
and they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them,
The other ship, as we said above, is the Church of the Gentiles which, since one small boat is not enough, is also filled with the chosen. For God knows who are his own, and with him the number of his elect is fixed. Since, then, in Judaea he did not find as many believers as he knew were predestined to faith and eternal life, as if seeking another ship to receive his fish, he filled the hearts of the Gentiles also with the grace of faith. And rightly, when the net broke, a companion ship was summoned, for before this Judas, the traitor, and Simon Magus, the most worthless of fish, had been caught; and Ananias and Sapphira had tried deceitfully to enter the net of faith; and, as John testifies, many of his disciples had departed from him and no longer walked with him; and finally Barnabus and Paul were chosen to be apostles to the Gentiles.
and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking
The loading of these ships will increase until the end of the world; but the fact that having been filled they sink, that is, they are threatened with destruction (for they are not actually sunk, but rather in danger of shipwreck), this fact the Apostle has set forth, saying: In the last days perilous times shall come, and men shall be lovers of themselves (II Tim. 3:1, 2). The sinking ships are men of this world, out of which they are lifted through faith, but back into which they fall through the ways of depravity. That Peter himself was such a man, still clogged by weakness, he shows in this place.