Tag Archives: call

Saint Andrew, brother of Peter


November 30th is the Feast of St. Andrew. On the lakeshore in Galilee Jesus called him and 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 were originally from Bethsaida, a trading town in the upper part of the Sea of Galilee with a substantial Greek population. Would that explain why they may have spoken some Greek?  Afterwards they located in Capernaum, another trading town close by.

Could that 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 sees why the Greek church has Andrew as its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.

Bethsaida has been recently excavated.

Bethsaida 393
Bethsaida: Winegrowers house
Bethsaida: Ruins
Bethsaida: Ruins

 Andrew seems to have an interest  in religious questions. He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, who points Jesus out to him. Jesus then invites 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)

I notice too that Andrew bring the little boy with the bread and fish to the attention of Jesus.

The Greek Church sees  Andrew as 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 the Greeks, and 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!”

God Calls

In yesterday’s Gospel  Jesus meets Peter, Andrew, James, and John by the Sea of Galilee and says:  “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men(Mt 4:19).” I have to regard it as miraculous that “at once”, “immediately “, these men leave all they have and all they do, and choose to follow Jesus.

The Bible has various examples of regular people who respond to the call of God, not with any “ifs, buts,and ors,” but in a state of immediate surrender and obedience: Abraham, the Blessed Mother, her husband Joseph. What is it about true, intimate contact with God that compels people to act like this? What did those Apostles see in the eyes of Jesus?

I humbly believe that they looked into the Sun that is Divine Love, and they realized  they could do nothing else but to follow that Love. Like all of us, they had been longing for this moment all their lives.

Henry J. M. Nouwen writes: “We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives….. Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: ‘You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.'”  Yes, the Apostles on that shore had looked upon the Truth, and they felt within their hearts the calling to proclaim it, so that:

                  “Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,

                  and their words to the ends of the world.”(Rom 10:18)

All the way to me!  After 43 years of vacillation between indifference and longing, prompted by the example of loving people, and by the reading of the Scriptures, I beheld the risen Host one Sunday in a church in Queens, NY, and Jesus opened my eyes to His Truth and my ears to his message:  “You are my beloved.  In you my favor rests.” And then: “Come follow me.”

Wow!  It was that quick, how my life totally changed.  And here I am now.

The road was not easy for those Apostles who followed Jesus on that day in Galilee. It certainly has not been easy for me. But I know (even if sometimes I forget) that I am a beloved son of God, the same as every person on Earth, and I proclaim this in gratitude and joy.

              Orlando Hernandez