30 November 2017. Saint Andrew, Apostle

1st Reading: Romans 10:9-18

How will they hear the faith, unless it be preached?

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22

The call of the apostles, including Andrew.

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.


A truly generous spirit

After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep it to himself, but hurried to share it with his brother. See what Andrew said to him: “We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ.” His words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth, plus reveal the zeal and concern of men who were from the start concerned about this question. Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and eager to announce this great event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.

See as well how, from the beginning, Peter is receptive to the good news. He hurries to Jesus without delay. “Andrew brought him to Jesus,” says the evangelist. Peter must not be faulted for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word first testing it. Probably his brother had given him and many others a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, often summarise a lengthy set of events. John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that Andrew brought him to Jesus. Andrew simply handed him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself. There was also another disciple present, who hurried off with them for the same purpose.

When John the Baptist said “This is the Lamb who baptizes in the Spirit,” he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ himself. Even more so would Andrew do this, since he did not think himself capable of fully explaining the one he had met. So he brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that not even for a moment did he hesitate to follow Jesus.

(Paraphrased from a homily on Saint Andrew the Apostle by Saint John Chrysostom)

Without hesitation

There is a lovely simplicity in the story of the call of Andrew along with his brother Simon Peter and the other two sets of brothers, James and John. First Jesus saw Simon and Andrew making a cast with their net, going about their daily work, and he called out to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately the two brothers left their nets and followed Jesus.

The evangelist may have streamlined a conversion experience in the lives of these two fishermen that in fact may have been a lot more complex. We would expect some resistance to the call of Jesus, as answering it would mean leaving behind what they were familiar with and good at and heading out into the unknown. Catching people is more challenging than catching fish. Gathering people into the net of God’s kingdom as announced by Jesus was surely more complicated than hauling fish from the Sea of Galilee. But whatever hesitation Andrew and Simon may have felt, obviously they overcame it when they threw in their lot with Jesus.

These brothers became great preachers of the gospel. The way the Lord works in our lives is perhaps not so different from how he worked in the lives of Andrew and Simon. He often calls us out to people in the midst of their daily tasks. He calls us to go beyond where we are, beyond the familiar, in the service of the coming of God’s kingdom. That call can come to us in small and subtle ways. We may find ourselves resisting it, but if we listen to it and allow it to resonate within us, and respond to it, we may find that the Lord works through us for good in ways that can surprise us.


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