Today, November 30, the Feast of St. Andrew, is one of those calendar dates that can find itself on either side of the line that separates one liturgical year from another. This year we find ourselves already in the Season of Advent, making this feast the first of the new liturgical year.
St. Andrew holds the distinction of being the “first-called.” The synoptic Gospels record that Andrew and his brother Peter were fishing with their father when Jesus called them to be “fishers of men.” The Gospel of John tells us that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and that the Baptist pointed Jesus out to Andrew and directed him to follow Him. We also learn from St. John’s Gospel that Andrew drew his brother to Jesus. These two different approaches present us with two important considerations with regard to “call” or “vocation.”
No matter what our vocation in life, be it to the consecrated life, the married life, the priesthood, or to the single state, it is important to realize that our call to a certain way of life comes from God. As St. John writes in the fifteenth chapter of his Gospel: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (John 15:16) These words from the fourth Gospel are exemplified in the synoptic Gospels wherein we read that Jesus specifically called certain men to be his disciples. However, the Gospel of St. John also illustrates that God can use the example of another to call someone as we read how St. Andrew went to his brother Peter and said: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41b).
St. Andrew went on to become one of the Twelve. Tradition tells us that he was crucified on an “X” shaped cross. He is often depicted holding such a cross. He is the patron saint of Scotland, Barbados, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, the city of Patras (the traditional site of his execution), San Andrés (Tenerife), the Diocese of Parañaque, the cities of Manila, Amalfi, Luqa (Malta), the Diocese of Victoria; fishermen, fishmongers and rope-makers.
As we keep his feast, we should remember that God can use any one of us to call others to the faith just as it is recorded that Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. The example of our lives is the most powerful form of preaching that anyone can employ in spreading the Good News of God’s reign among us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrato