November 30, 2019 – Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans (10:9-18)
Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
The Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone to preach?
And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
But not everyone has heeded the good news;
for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?
Thus faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; for
Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (4:18-22)
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
We celebrate today the Feast of St. Andrew, one of the original 12 apostles. We know very little of him. According to our tradition, Andrew became the first bishop in the community of Constantinople until he was martyred through crucifixion on an X-shape cross. The gospels tell us also that he was the brother of Peter. They were from Bethsaida, a town near the Sea of Galilee. In John’s gospel, we were told that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist at first.
In the same gospel, we found that Andrew had actually brought Peter to Jesus, telling his brother, “We have found the Messiah!” In the other gospels, it was Andrew who called the attention of Jesus about the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Again, it was Andrew who told Jesus that there were some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus.
From here, we can sense that Andrew was actually an apostle with a typical role. Unlike Peter, he was not able to witness the transfiguration of Jesus at Mt. Tabor. Andrew was not part of Jesus’ inner circle composed of Peter and the 2 brothers, James and John.
He was in fact an ordinary guy, an ordinary apostle of Jesus. However, Andrew had a remarkable faith in Jesus.
Remember, his brother Peter doubted and even denied Jesus three times. But for Andrew, he was the first one to realize that Jesus was truly the Messiah. In his conviction, he joyfully shared what he found to his brother. He himself became an evangelist, a preacher of the good news to his own brother. Moreover, he brought others to Jesus like the boy and those Greeks. He became a bridge between Jesus and other people.
This is what St. Paul has told us in the first reading. As there is a need and but also beauty in sharing one’s faith in Jesus to others. His letter to the Romans would help us ponder our own call to be a kind of apostle or bearer of the good news to others like St. Andrew.
We usually think that preaching is only proper to bishops, priests, and deacons. Indeed, public preaching of the gospel in liturgical occasions like what I am doing now is proper to me as a priest and not to you as lay persons. But it does not mean that you cannot preach the Gospel or share Jesus anymore to others. As Christians, we share the prophetic role of Jesus by virtue of our baptism. It means that all of us have both the responsibility and the privilege to be God’s messenger to others.
The Gospel tells us how we are being called individually. To each of us, Jesus is saying, “COME, FOLLOW ME, AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISH FOR PEOPLE! I WILL MAKE YOU MY OWN APOSTLE!” This can surely be materialized when we preach with joy by our own example.
Thus, when we are happy with what we are doing and when we are honest in our relationships and dealings with others; and when we are sensitive to others and volunteer to help whenever someone needs a helping hand; when we become joyful givers to those who have less; when we become more understanding and compassionate with those who are experiencing more difficulty in their life; and when people around us feel the deep expression of our faith as we pray in the church, in our homes or with others…then people will see these things and will recognize that we are Christians. Then like St. Andrew, we will be able to bring other people closer to Jesus, by becoming bearers of the Good News through our very life. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR