We too can bring others closer to Jesus

November 30, 2022 – Wednesday Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/113022.cfm)

Who was that significant person who brought you closer to the Church and closer to Jesus? I am sure, each of us here has a particular person or people who became significant in our faith journey. Others could have their grandparents who were the very instruments for them to grow in their Catholic faith. Or perhaps a relative, a parent, a sibling or a friend, or an intimate friend who inspired us to come to Church and encounter God.

Indeed, the celebration of our Vicariate Youth Day with its theme, “Pamatan-on: Padayon sa Misyon Kaupod si Maria,” is an expression of that experience of being inspired and motivated to come closer to the Lord. Certainly, this is a good reason to thank them for being an instrument for us in our journey of faith. So, I want you now to close your eyes and imagine that person to be in front of you and in silence, say to that person your words of gratitude for being an instrument of God for you. Say, your “THANK YOU.”

As we express our gratitude to the people who have become significant in our journey of faith, let us be reminded as well of the feast that as a Church, we celebrate today. This is the Feast of St. Andrew, one of the original 12 apostles. So, allow me now to explore a bit this person of St. Andrew, how he has become significant to our church and on how the Lord invites us today as young people.

You know, we know very little of St. Andrew. 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 and meet Jesus.

From here, we can sense that Andrew was actually an apostle with a typical role. Unlike his brother, 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. Andrew became a bridge between Jesus and other people. Thus, Andrew became the significant person for many people to encounter and to know Jesus more.

This is what St. Paul told us in the first reading. As there is a need but there is also beauty in sharing one’s faith in Jesus to others. And we can preach Jesus by making our faith be manifested through words and actions so that what we preach will be heard by many. Paul’s 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.

This reminds us now of our theme in this VYD, “Pamatan-on: Padayon sa Misyon kaupod kay Maria.” Mary, is indeed, another significant person in our journey of faith. This celebration of the gift of the young people in our Vicariate of St. Peter calls us to mission by preaching Jesus through our words and actions with Mary.

Now, we usually think that preaching is only proper to bishops, priests, and deacons. Definitely, 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 young Christians, we share the prophetic role of Jesus by virtue of our baptism. It means that each of us has both the responsibility and the privilege to be God’s messenger to others, and this makes us young missionaries.

The Gospel tells us how we are being called as young missionaries today. To each of us, Jesus says, “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. But how? These are few examples.

First, when we are happy with what we are doing and when we are honest in our relationships and dealings with others – we preach the person of Jesus.

Second, when we are sensitive to others and volunteer to help without any selfish motivations whenever someone needs a helping hand – then, we preach the person of Jesus.

Third, when we become joyful givers to those who have less;  when we become more understanding and compassionate with those who are experiencing difficulties in their life; then, we preach the person of Jesus.

Fourth, when people around us feel the deep expression of our faith as we pray in the church, in our homes or with others… then, we preach the person of Jesus.

Fifth, when we are able to stand and fight for justice, when we are able to confront what is evil and unjust in our institutions and society, when we choose life not violence and death, then, we preach the person of Jesus.

Friends, people will see these things and will recognize that we are Christians. Then like St. Andrew and our Mother Mary, we will be able to bring other people closer to Jesus, by becoming bearers of the Good News through our very life. Kabay pa.

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