Feast Day: November 30th
Besides knowing that was chosen by Jesus to be an apostle, and the traditions that the Church has passed down carefully every since his martyrdom on an X-shaped cross (a “crux decussata” as the Romans would have known it) in Patras (within the area thought to have been evangelized by Andrew around what is now Turkey and Greece), we have three scenes given us in the Gospels to get to know this older brother of Simon Peter. In the first, we find that Andrew is a fisherman (he is now the patron saint of all who have followed him in that occupation), and one of the disciples of John the Baptist.
One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).[John 1:40-42]
The focus quickly shifts to Peter, and yet we find here that Andrew was actually one of Jesus’ first disciples, and had the courage and clarity to see right away that Jesus, yes, of Nazareth, was the Messiah. I love how he describes this encounter and realization as “finding” the Messiah. It is true for us as well that we must seek Christ in order to find Him. He does not hide from us! But, the happenings of our lives can overshadow His presence to us, and we must continuously strive to find Him anew, to discover Him more fully, to know Him more fully, to love Him more completely. Yes, we much find Jesus every day! Fast forward a few chapters, and we find ourselves with Andrew at one of Jesus’ most famous miracles:
Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?”[John 6:5-9]
Still overshadowed by his brother, Andrew’s words flesh out the boldness that we already saw in Capernaum: he has the gumption to bring a laughable solution to an immense problem, but to leave the situation in Jesus’ hands all the same. Now Andrew goes beyond following and finding, he must bring also his futility to the Lord. Can we follow Andrew this far, or do we hesitate to be inadequate before Jesus? Christ does not just want our fidelity; He also wants our frailty! Do I tell Him about my inadequacy? Do I trust Him enough to open to Him my own lack of trust? And lastly:
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-saida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.[John 12:20-26]
To struggle to find Jesus is one thing. To risk our frailty before the Lord is another. But now Andrew goes further and allows Jesus to work through his friendships. Philip, it seems, wasn’t willing on his own to bring the Greek group to Jesus, but Andrew, as always, had the nerve to risk it. He had done this first with Peter, then with the little boy and his fish, and now these foreigners. Each would never have met Jesus if Andrew hadn’t intervened. Do you and I have that courage? Do we act on it? Do we invite our own friends into friendship with Jesus? We will never be “ready” to do so, knowing everything about the Lord! Andrew sure didn’t, but he still was man-enough to just bring people to Jesus.
– Fr. Rankin seriously wondered how this fourth saint would successfully tie together an unpredictable month trying to understand human conscience and freedom through the lives of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Albert the Great, and St. Clement I. And here he does! Do we consider the Gospel an imposition that we can’t propose anew to a relative, friend, or acquaintance? Do we think it a burden that limits our freedom? We must not! Our freedom is fulfilled in Jesus! We are never more free than when we are His disciples, and abide in obedience to, and like, Him. That is our Christian belief, let us live in that faith every day!