Saint Andrew the Apostle First Apostle of Jesus
by Catherine Fournier
Saint Andrew the Apostle
First Apostle of Jesus
Feast Day: November 30
places: Achaia; Amalfi, Italy; Patras, Greece;
University of Patras; Russia; Romania; Ukraine;
people: fish dealers, fish
mongers, fishermen, maidens, old maids, singers,
spinsters, unmarried women, women who wish to become
conditions: sore throats, gout.
Symbol: fishing net; saltire (x-shaped) cross;
fish; man bound to a cross; man preaching from a cross;
preacher holding some fish
Have you ever moved, and been 'the new kid' in the neighbourhood? Or have you ever had a new kid move into your neighborhood? What do you notice about the new kid? Are you willing to include him in your games? Do you leave your other friends for a while to play with the new kid and find out what she's like?
At first, Saint Andrew was a follower of Saint John the Baptist. Saint John was Jesus' cousin, son of Elizabeth. He preached and baptized people proclaiming "make way for the One Who is coming! Repent and prepare!" One day, Saint John pointed to Jesus and said "See, the Lamb of God!" Andrew looked over and saw Jesus, and wondered why John was calling him 'the Lamb of God.' Did he mean that this was the One Who was coming, the Messiah? So he went over to listen to Jesus, and followed him for a few days listening and learning.
Soon, he realized that Jesus was the Messiah, the promised One Who would lead them all to a new Kingdom of God. Saint Andrew couldn't wait to share the new with his brother and cousins. He ran to Simon Peter saying "Come and see! I have found the Messiah!" and brought his brother to meet Jesus. Simon Peter became Peter, our first Pope.
After that, and after Jesus had taught His Apostles, been crucified, given us Easter by rising from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, Andrew spent his whole life telling that he had found the Messiah and urging them to 'come and see.' He wanted everyone to share in the happiness and salvation that he had found by following Jesus. Eventually, Andrew was crucified for his preaching, but even on the cross he didn't stop telling people to leave their old gods and their old ways to follow the New Covenant in Jesus.
St. Andrew is the patron saint for fishermen, because he, like his brother, Simon Peter, was a fisherman from Bethsaida; they also had a house at Capharnaum, as we hear that our Lord stayed there when he was preaching in the neighborhood. Initially, Andrew was a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master.
Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, so turning back, he asked, "What do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah, whom the Scriptures promised and John proclaimed.
This is why Andrew is called the first disciple of Christ. Excited and over-joyed at what he had found, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple.
At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs. One day, when they were about to set out in their boat to fish, Jesus went to the shore and called them both to Him. When the asked 'What do you want of us, Lord?' He replied, 'Come with Me, and I will make you fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It was at this time also that James and John were called, and Andrew appears with them and his brother at the head of the list of the twelve apostles. It was he who brought to our Lord the boy with the five barley loaves and two fishes at the feeding of the five thousand.
Part of Christ's teaching was that his message was for all the world. He instructed his Apostles and disciples on how to travel, how to preach and teach and how to conduct themselves. Clearly, He was training his followers to be 'fishers of men.' Just as he said 'Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe', he intended that many should not hear Him, and yet believe, based only on the teaching of his friends.
After Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew traveled to many lands preaching the Gospel. The Christian historian Eusebius writes that he preached in Scythia. St Gregory Nazianzen says that he went to Epirus, St Jerome that he was in Achaia--and there seems a genuine tradition that he was indeed in Greece. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, by the Roman proconsul at Patras in Achaia. He was tied to this cross, not nailed, though it is unclear why, especially since this allowed him to live for two more days, during which he preached continuously to the crowds of people who came to see him. The proconsul may have wished to cause him further suffering by prolonging his death, but Andrew welcomed it with joy.
Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron - Russia and Scotland. His patronage of Russia is based on a tradition that in his missionary journeying he reached the city of Kiev in what is now the Ukraine, possibly laying the groundwork for the conversion of Russia in the eleventh century which originated from Kiev.
Another legend connects him with Scotland. In the fourth century the guardian of the relics of Andrew at Patras was told in a dream to take part of them to a place that would be shown to him. He was led to what is now St Andrews in Scotland; he built there a church and preached to the heathen people. The St Andrew's cross — 'saltire' — or X-shaped-of Scottish heraldry, often supposed to have been the form of cross on which Andrew was martyred, does not, in fact, seem to have been associated with the saint before the fourteenth century.
The name "Andrew" (Greek: manhood, or valor), like other Greek names, was common among the Jews from the second or third century B.C. St. Andrew, the Apostle, son of Jonah, was born in Bethsaida of Galilee. Both he and his brother, Simon Peter, were fishermen, and at the beginning of Our Lord's public life occupied the same house at Capharnaum. From the Gospel of John, we learn that Andrew was a disciple of the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce Him to his brother, Peter.
Thenceforth the two brothers were disciples of Christ. Eventually came the final call to the apostolate, and then they left all things to follow Jesus . Finally Andrew was chosen to be one of the Twelve; and in the various lists of Apostles given in the New Testament he is always numbered among the first four.
In addition to this scanty information, we learn from the fourth Gospel that on the occasion of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who said: "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?". Like the majority of the Twelve, Andrew is not named in the Acts except in the list of the Apostles, where the order of the first four is Peter, John, James, Andrew; nor have the Epistles or the Apocalypse any mention of him.
From what we know of the Apostles generally, we can, of course, supplement somewhat these few details. As one of the Twelve, Andrew was admitted to the closest familiarity with Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Palestine.
When the Apostles went forth to preach to the Nations, Andrew seems to have taken an important part and traveled widely, but unfortunately it is difficult to reliably prove any of his contributions. Eusebius assigns Scythia as his mission field; while St. Gregory of Nazianzus mentions Epirus; St. Jerome names Achaia; and Theodoret declares Hellas. Probably these various accounts are correct, for Nicephorus states that Andrew preached in Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, then in the land of the anthropophagi and the Scythian deserts, afterward in Byzantium itself, where he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop, and finally in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia.
It is generally agreed that he was crucified by order of the Roman Governor at Patrae in Achaia, and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. After his martyrdom St. Andrew's relics were translated from Patrae to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles there, about A.D. 357. When Constantinople was taken by the French, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, Cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relics to Italy and placed them in the cathedral of Amalfi, where most of them still remain.
After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother Peter. Notice what Andrew said to him: "We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ."
Notice how 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. Andrew's words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce to great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, loving kinship and sincere affection.
from a homily on the Gospel of John by Saint John Chrysostom
Lord, You raised up Saint Andrew, Your Apostle, to preach and rule in Your Church. Grant that we may always experience the benefit of his intercession with You. Amen.
Icon at the top of the page: Icon from the Holy Transfiguration
Brookline, MA, USA.
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