Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle of Jesus Christ and the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, who were among the first ones that Jesus our Lord called, and in fact St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called as he was first to be called by Jesus, and then he called St. Peter to the service of God.
St. Andrew and his brother St. Peter were fishermen at the lake of Galilee, together with St. James and St. John. When you think of what fisherman does and what is their standing in the society, certainly you would not have thought immediately that these people would later on become great and called the Apostles of our Lord. But that is precisely how God works, for He calls simple and ordinary people, and transforms them by the power of His grace and love.
St. Andrew was among those whom the Lord had chosen to be the principal servants of His, to be the bearers of His Good News and His teachings, His words of salvation and liberation from sin for all mankind to hear, to see and to witness, that through what the Apostles had witnessed from the Lord, and which they shared to others, they might bring all these people away from the darkness and from the brink of death into a new life blessed by God in His grace.
And certainly, their work would not be an easy one, for many challenges were facing them at that time. First of all, the Jewish authorities were against them, in how the Pharisees, the elders, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and even secular authorities like the Sadducees and Herod’s supporters were against them. Many of these people had viewed Jesus and His ways and teachings as threats to their own authority, and just as they had persecuted Jesus and condemned Him to death, the same they had done for His followers as well.
Indeed, given such an opposition, especially from a stubborn and hard-hearted people, it would be easy to just throw in the towel and give up everything. We may be thinking that it is not worth the effort to suffer, to toil and even to die for the sake of our Faith, and for the sake of the Lord, but let me tell you, the Apostles would have thought completely otherwise.
The Apostles brought the Good News of God to all mankind, going to faraway places and converting the people into the light of God. What is at stake there was none other than the fate of many, countless souls, all those who had not heard of the words of the Lord and His ways, and thus lived in sin and darkness. Had the Apostles not be brave, courageous and had they not gone out of their way to preach the Good News, many, millions and more souls would have been lost, including that of ours.
Why is that so? That is because if they had not preached the Good News to others, then the Good News would only remain with them, and others would not have heard of it. And if these others would not have heard of it, then the knowledge of God and His salvation would have ended there and then, and no one would be there to instruct people throughout the many years following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension in the Faith, and therefore, neither would we have heard God’s salvation.
It was thanks to the hard work of the Apostles and their fellow disciples of the Lord, who have labourer hard, toiled hard, and persevered earnestly for their faith in God, for the evangelisation of the peoples, as what we have heard in the first reading today from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome. Through the works of the Apostles, many have heard of the Lord, and many have been turned from their sinful ways.
Divisions have been healed, and no longer were there distinction between Jews or Greeks, free or enslaved, for all have been freed and made equal in God. At that time, the Jews viewed themselves as superior to all the pagan peoples, the Gentiles, or non-Jews. They thought that because they were the direct descendants and heirs of Abraham, they deserved to receive God’s promise and not the other people.
But God made it clear through His teachings and through what the Apostles then disseminate among the people, Jews and Gentiles alike, that everyone are beloved by God and all who believe sincerely in Him will be saved. What matters is their love for God, their sincere devotion and their faith. And this was what the Apostles had laboured for, working tirelessly, suffering for persecution for our sake.
St. Andrew himself travelled to many places, including what is now Turkey and Greece. It was told that he helped to establish the See of Constantinople, the second in preeminence among all the dioceses in the world. It was there that he became the first bishop of the community of the faithful there, and spread the word of God to many people, and in the end, was martyred through crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, bringing glory to God.
Today, as we rejoice in the memory of the glorious Apostle St. Andrew, let us remember that as Christians, we still have that very same mission which our Lord has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples all those years ago. There are still yet many who have not heard of the word of God, His ways and His promised salvation. There are indeed many souls to be saved and many opportunities for evangelisation.
We are called to be the disciples of Christ, to be like His Apostle in our world today. We are called to serve Him through sincere faith and through zeal, that by our good works and by our courageous witness of the Lord and His teachings to others, we may be the source of eternal life and salvation for many others, that the salvation God has promised will not be ours alone, but also will belong to many, countless other souls.
Let us all ponder on this, and discern on what we can do, as Christians, as those who believe in Jesus our Lord, and of course, as those whom He had called to be the bearers of His Good News to the nations. As it had happened to the Apostles before, persecutions, challenges and difficulties will be part of our lives, but we should never fear, brethren, for God will always be with us, as He had been with His Apostles and all the martyrs and saints who have laboured and even gave up their lives for His sake.
May the Lord awaken in us the spirit and the strength to carry out His will and good works in our respective communities, that by the examples of St. Andrew and the other Holy Apostles, we may be inspired to serve Him with ever greater zeal and commit ourselves to works of redemption, calling all sinners to repentance in God, and thus make ourselves worthy of Him. May God bless all of our endeavours. Amen.