Like St. Andrew every Christian is given a vocation to live the Gospel in one’s own circumstances

Father John A. Kiley

The apostles Peter, James and John were certainly favored by Christ to witness incidents which the other apostles did not observe. The transfiguration of Christ on the mountain, the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the intimate prayers of Christ during his agony at Gethsemane were episodes shared only with these three. These men maintained their privileged status within the early Church as well, being marked as “pillars” of the Church by St. Paul himself. Yet, if this triumvirate formed the apostolic band’s board of directors, Saint Andrew was definitely the Twelve’s executive secretary. The Evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke perhaps agree with this assessment since Andrew’s name immediately follows that of the big three in all four biblical listings of the Apostles. St. Andrew had a way of getting things done. He was no idler but could cut through red tape and secure results. No grass grew under his feet.
Although Peter would later outrank his brother, it was Andrew who eagerly took the initiative to introduce Christ to Peter, as this Sunday’s Gospel passage notes: “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ. Then, he brought him to Jesus (Jn.1:41).” Andrew’s fraternal thoughtfulness helped speed the course of salvation history. Although Peter was married, he and his brother still shared the same home: “He entered the house of Simon and Andrew (Mk.1:13).” Both men soon pledged total dedication to Christ: “They immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers (Mt.4:20).” Andrew is the disciple who, overcoming Philip’s hesitancy, promotes the feeding of the five thousand: “Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?’ (Jn.6:8-9). When some Greeks inform Philip that they “should like to see Jesus,” Philip wisely enlists Andrew’s assistance in approaching Jesus: “Philip and Andrew in turn came to inform Jesus (Jn.12:22).” Andrew also notably joined in a private dialogue with Jesus about the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple and Jesus’ eventual return into history (Mk.13:3).
There is little documentation about the ministry of St. Andrew in the early Church. Tradition has him preaching in the area of Constantinople and even into Ukraine and Russia. There are relics preserved today in Greece. The saint was reportedly crucified upon an X-shaped cross just as his brother Peter was crucified on an upside-down cross, both men claiming to be unworthy to die in the same fashion as Christ, their lord and savior. Scotland has long claimed St. Andrew as a patron as the X-shaped white cross on a blue background that forms the national flag of Scotland testifies and as the famous golf course happily confirms.
Few believers reading “The Quiet Corner” today will have the opportunity to preach the Gospel in a foreign land. Nor will many readers be challenged to endure a wretched death for the sake of the Christ. Still, like Andrew and his fellow disciples, every Christian is given an opportunity, a challenge, a vocation by God to live the Gospel message in one’s own particular circumstances. Husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister, boss or worker, student or retired – there are Gospel opportunities in every walk of life. St. Francis of Assisi once remarked, “Preach the Gospel always, and if you must, use words.” The Gospel is not propagated only from the pulpit. The Gospel is chiefly heralded by a well-lived and generous Christian life.
In the first reading this Sunday, the young boy Samuel is called by God to be the prophet who will be instrumental in anointing the royal line of Israel. His mentor Eli directs the young seer to have an open mind and open heart regarding the work God has planned for him. Eli advises Samuel, “…if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” St. Andrew listened to Jesus when he was summoned, along with his brother, to become a fisher of men. Samuel listened to God when he was bidden to guide the first kings of Israel in settling the Promised Land. Every believer must listen to God and Jesus and the Spirit by probing his or her own mind and heart to discern each God-given inclination. Every believer must listen to God and Jesus and the Spirit through sincere prayer and quiet reflection. Every believer must listen to God and Jesus and the Spirit by discerning the signs of the times and the needs of one’s generation. Every Christian – laity, religious, clergy – has a vocation before God, a challenge to live the Gospel message extensively and effectively in each person’s unique circumstances. Like Andrew and Samuel, today’s servants must keep alert.


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