November 30th is the Feast of St. Andrew. On the lakeshore in Galilee Jesus called him along with his brother Simon Peter to follow him. We only know a few details about Andrew. What are they?
He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. Why would a Jew have a Greek name? The area around the Sea of Galilee was then multi-cultural, and Andrew’s family came originally from Bethsaida, a trading town in the upper part of the Sea of Galilee with a substantial Greek population. Would that explain it? Wouldn’t they also have spoken some Greek? Afterwards they located in Capernaum, another trading town along the sea.
If that’s all so, it could explain why later in John’s gospel, Andrew and Philip bring some Greek pilgrims to Jesus before his death in Jerusalem. Jesus rejoices, seeing them as signs that his passion and glorification will draw all nations to him. One can see why the Greek church has Andrew as its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.
Bethsaida has been recently excavated.
Can we also see Andrew as someone interested in religious questions? He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, and John pointed Jesus out to him. Jesus then invited Andrew and another disciple to stay for a day with him. “Come and see.” Afterwards, Andrew “found his brother Simon and said to him ‘We have found the Messiah.’” (John 1,35-41)
For the Greek Church Andrew is the first of the apostles because he’s the first to follow Jesus; then he calls his brother. Western and eastern Christian churches together celebrate his feast on November 30th.
The letter to the Romans, the first reading for his feast in the Roman Catholic liturgy, stresses there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, and praises messengers who bring God’s word to others. Tradition says Andrews brought the gospel to Greek speaking people. It also claims that Andrew was crucified on the beach at Patras in Greece. Besides Greece, Andrew’s also the patron of Russia and Scotland.
We ask you, O Lord,
that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew
was for your Church a preacher and pastor,
so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.
Troparion (Tone 4) (Greek Orthodox)
Andrew, first-called of the Apostles
and brother of the foremost disciple,
entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world
and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion (Tone 2)
Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God,
the namesake of courage,
the first-called of the Savior’s disciples
and the brother of Peter.
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us:
“Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!”