Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of the great Apostles, among the Twelve chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ, and this Apostle was also known to be the first among all of them to be called, as the first disciple of Jesus, right after He was baptised at the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. St. Andrew the Apostle and the First Called was once a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but having heard from St. John himself that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Messiah Who comes, he went on to become the disciple of Jesus.

And St. Andrew was the younger brother of St. Peter the Apostle, another very prominent Apostle, who is the first Vicar of Christ, the predecessor of our current Pope and Bishop of Rome. The Lord Jesus has established His Church in this world, founded upon the strong foundation of faith of the Apostles, and indeed the Apostles are the pillars of the Church, its support and strength. If not for all the good works and commitment of the Apostles, the Church as we know it today would not have existed.

The first Apostles were called by Jesus as He walked along the lake, and those were fishermen, as St. Peter and St. Andrew were, as well as St. James and St. John the Evangelist. They were plying their trade at the lakeside, catching fishes to be sold to the market as their livelihood, but the Lord called them to a greater purpose in life, that is to follow Him, to become His disciple, and therefore to commit and dedicate their whole lives to Him, to be His messengers of the Good News.

He called them to become the fishers of men, meaning that they would be the instruments through which God would call His people to Himself, to gather them in and to embrace them with reconciliation, love and compassion. They were the ones who would go on to preach the Good News of the Gospel in various areas and places, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, that they bore courageous witness to the Lord’s life, death and resurrection.

And thus St. Andrew also went on to preach the Gospel in various areas after the Lord ascended to heaven and the Apostles received the Holy Spirit. It was told that St. Andrew went through the area of what is now the Black Sea coasts, from the present day Turkey to Russia and the northern regions, and also to what was then Roman Greece, preaching the Gospel of Christ, and many were converted through his works.

In the end, the Roman authorities persecuted Christians throughout its realm, and St. Andrew was among those who were arrested and persecuted, and was put to death by crucifixion. Just like his brother, St. Peter the Apostle in Rome, who refused to die in the same way as the Lord had died on the cross, and thus was crucified upside down instead, St. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is now famously known as the cross of St. Andrew.

The life and work of St. Andrew the Apostle should become an inspiration to all of us as Christians, because we cannot think that the works of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord are done or completed. There are still many things to be done, and the works of the Church are always ever present in our world, past, present and future to come. There are still many people out there who have not heard the Good News of the Lord, and even more importantly, there are many within the Church itself who have lapsed away from our faith.

All of us are the continuation of the Apostles, who have been called to the same mission that the Lord gave the Apostles and the other disciples just before He was about to be lifted up from us, ascending in His glory to heaven. He commanded all of the Church to go forth, and spread the Good News of God’s salvation to all parts of the world, that every people from every nations may come to God and receive holy baptism, and marked therefore as the Lord’s own people.

There are still many things which each and every one of us as Christians can do, to be part of the Church’s effort of evangelisation and missionary works. We do not have to follow the way of the Apostles strictly in a sense that we should go forth to many places and preach in the streets, or even encounter persecution and martyrdom. There are indeed those among us whom God has called for such a purpose, and then for others, we should begin with ourselves, in our own families and communities, and among those whom we know.

What does this mean? That means each and every one of us as Christians must preach the Gospel of Christ, not by mere words alone, but also through real and concrete actions based on our faith, listening to what the Lord had commanded us all to do, to love one another tenderly just as He has loved us, by showing love, mercy, care and compassion for the poor and for those who are less fortunate. Let us all do all these, that through us, many more will come to believe in the Lord and be saved.

May the Lord help us all Christians, that we too may also become the fishers of men as the Apostles had been, by living the faith we have with genuine commitment and sincerity, so that all those who see our faith will come to believe in God as well, and therefore together as one people we may receive eternal glory from Our Lord and rejoice with the Apostles forevermore. St. Andrew the Apostle, pray for us. Amen.

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