IN THOSE DAYS, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on Him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats there at the shore of the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered, “Master, we worked all night long but caught nothing. Yet at Your word, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, so that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so much that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Saint Maximus of Turin explains the symbolism of the boat,
Ordinarily, people are to given life on a boat but are simply transported. Nor are they comforted on a vessel but anxious about its journey. Notice also that this boast is not a boat that is given to Peter to be piloted - rather, it is the Church, which is committed to the apostle to be governed. For this is the vessel that does not kill but gives life to those borne along by the storms of this world as if by waves. Just as a little boat holds the dying fish that have been brought up from the deep, so also the vessel of the Church gives life to human beings who have been freed from turmoil. Within itself, I say, the Church gives life to those who are half-dead, as it were.
The Whole Counsel of God Bible study: