Monday, November 30, 2009

Prayers for today: By the Sea of Galilee the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. He called them: come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4: 18-19)

Lord in your kindness hear our petitions. You called Andrew the apostle to preach the gospel and guide your Church in faith. May he always be our friend in your presence to help us with his prayers. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

St. Andrew the Apostle

Andrew was St. Peter’s brother, and was called with him. "As [Jesus] was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is now 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" (Matthew 4:18-20). John the Evangelist presents Andrew as a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." Andrew and another disciple followed Jesus. "Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day" (John 1:38-39a). Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels. Before the multiplication of the loaves, it was Andrew who spoke up about the boy who had the barley loaves and fishes (see John 6:8-9). When the Gentiles went to see Jesus, they came to Philip, but Philip then had recourse to Andrew (see John 12:20-22). Legend has it that Andrew preached the Good News in what is now modern Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras.
As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. He was an apostle. That is enough. He was called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus' power and to share his life and death. Holiness today is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to be concerned about the Kingdom, an outgoing attitude that wants nothing more than to share the riches of Christ with all people.
“...The Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:2-4).

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew (4.18-22)

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4: 18-22)

The call of Andrew
(Homily by Fr. E.J.Tyler)

Let us place ourselves in the beautiful scene of today's Gospel, the Gospel for the feast of St Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. In Matthew's Gospel, the call of Simon and Andrew is the first specific thing Matthew reports our Lord doing once his public ministry has begun. Christ was baptized by John in the river Jordan in Judea, and during this the Father announced from Heaven his identity as his beloved Son. Then there followed Christ's encounter with Satan in the wilderness, leaving Satan repulsed. On hearing of John the Baptist's imprisonment, Christ returns to Galilee and commences his prophetic ministry. A great light has suddenly appeared among the people calling for repentance, for the Kingdom of God is near. The momentous public ministry has begun. The scene becomes more concrete: Christ is walking now by the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps it is early in the morning with few of the population out and about, and Christ is there on the shore virtually alone, communing with his heavenly Father. Perhaps he has been there at prayer since the very early hours of the morning before dawn. The tide is lapping quietly at the shore. All is quiet and the inland Sea is lovely in its calm with the water stretching ahead. Some fishermen are at their work. Their voices subdued, perhaps they too have been at their work for many hours. The fishermen know who it is who is walking on the shore. In fact, we learn from the Gospel of St John that our Lord had met Simon and Andrew and James and John in Judea following his baptism. That Gospel makes it clear that their allegiance to him had already begun, but back then there was no public ministry in place. Now Christ has launched his mission and here he formally calls them to share in it. He pauses on the shore, looking at the Sea. His eyes — the eyes of God made man who sustains all things! — rove penetratingly from the gentle waves to the birds and sky above, and then to Simon and Andrew who are casting a net into the water. They pause, gazing at him. He calls: Come, share in my mission! They leave all to follow him.

The Gospels agree that Andrew was one of the very first to know Jesus of Nazareth precisely as the Messiah. In the Gospel of St John we are told that Andrew — at John the Baptist's own bidding — left the Baptist and followed Christ who invited him to his temporary dwelling. From that extended visit there was thenceforth no doubt in Andrew's mind: here was the Messiah! It was he who introduced Simon his brother to our Lord. "We have discovered the Messiah," he told his brother. The first thing, then, that we think of on the feast of St Andrew the Apostle is the coming of Jesus Christ into his life. In this sense it is most appropriate that the feast of St Andrew be celebrated during Advent, the season when the coming of the Lord is celebrated. He came among us as man, and in a wonderful way he came into the life of St Andrew. He wishes to come into our lives too — he has come at our baptism, but let us liken that baptismal coming to his first coming into Andrew's life following his own baptism. Here, now, on the shore he comes again into Andrew's life inviting him to share much more fully in his whole life, to follow him more completely, to be one with him in his joys, his mission and in his sufferings. Previous to our Gospel scene today, Andrew knew and loved our Lord, as did his brother Simon. But it had not led to concrete action — indeed, there had been no call from Christ to do so. But now the call has come and Andrew and Simon respond with alacrity and totality. They leave all to be with their master and to share in his mission and in his toils. Andrew would never turn back from this response to the call, though he and his brother had a great deal, a very great deal indeed, to learn from Jesus. Their notion of discipleship had yet to mature and pass through the fire of trial, but they emerged the purer in their commitment to the Master, and went on to a life and finally to a death as true friends of Jesus. Andrew and his brother Simon, together with James and John who were also called in our passage today, all became heroes in their following of Jesus and foundation stones of the Church. Each will be celebrated as great saints till the end of time.

Such is what happened because of the coming of Christ into their lives. Let us think, then, of the power of Christ's coming! If Christ comes into our lives, all will be well no matter what the cost. What, then, do we wish to welcome into our lives? What is our life going to be filled with? Will it be filled with the world, the flesh and the devil — to use the classic categories of Christian discourse, or will it be the person of Jesus Christ? Christ stands on the shore of my life as I proceed with my daily work. He says to me, come! Follow me and share in my mission in the manner appropriate to the vocation and circumstances I have placed you in. Make me the Guest of your soul, the Master of your life, and bring me to others. Fish for men, as do I! My response?

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