Nov 30 – Feast of St. Andrew, apostle
Andrew was the first Apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a fisherman by trade, and the brother of Simon Peter. He was a follower of John the Baptist. Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion. He was a missionary in Asia Minor and Greece, and possibly areas in modern Russia and Poland. He was martyred on a saltire (x-shaped) cross, and is said to have preached for two days from it.
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If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound. Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ. Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
I think I have been truly fortunate to live in a lifetime before the advent of email. As convenient and speedy as it may be, email has ironically made me appreciate snail mail more; and by snail mail, I do not mean the monthly bills and statements that we receive (sadly), but letters or greetings where someone has actually taken the time to sit down and write, in their own script, a personal message to you. The thought of that and the enclosed warm greeting would be enough to bring cheer to my heart and a smile to my face, and I’m certain it would be the same for you too.
Imagine then, in Jesus’ time, when the only way for news to arrive was if it were to be communicated in person, by word of mouth. The apostles were sent out to do just that, to spread the Good News of the Messiah, and this they had done via long journeys on foot, over land and sea. One such apostle was St Andrew, brother of St Peter. In the Gospel of John, St Andrew is depicted as one of Jesus’ first followers. In John 1:35-42, St Andrew, who was a disciple of John the Baptist, immediately followed Jesus, along with another disciple after John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to them. St Andrew subsequently brought his brother to Jesus after telling him that they had found the Messiah.
While in his lifetime, St Andrew preached as far as modern-day Ukraine and Greece, imagine if you would for a second, what it might have been for Simon his brother (later St Peter), to be out fishing, only to come home and be greeted in person by probably a rather excited and breathless Andrew, gushing that he had found the Messiah! Wouldn’t you, in Simon’s shoes, be terribly excited as well? Personally, I might have hugged him in delight and excitement! With such wondrous news, would you not also have done the same?
With the same level of enthusiasm, I believe this would have been how Andrew might have approached his mission. Yes, as the first reading indicated, not all heeded the good news, and not everyone who heard it, believed. However, for those who like him, had been waiting for news of our Saviour, his coming to preach would have been welcome tidings, and for them, this was their salvation.
In our modern day, our good tidings may come in an electronic form, but let us look beyond the form and see the substance that lies within, for what lies within may just be the good news that we are waiting for.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, we hear all kinds of news these days over the media, some of which may be true, while others may be exaggerated. Help us to filter out the news that attempts to confuse us, and give us the wisdom to recognize the message of God.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the messengers whom you have sent out to spread your Word and carry out your works in your holy name. We pray that we too will be able to emulate them and spread the Good News to others too.