Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of one of the great Twelve Apostles of the Lord, namely that of St. Andrew the Apostle, also known as St. Andrew the First-Called because he was indeed one of the first if not the first one among the Twelve Apostles to be called by the Lord to be one of His followers. St. Andrew the Apostle was once a fisherman of the region of the lake of Galilee, together with his brother St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and first Vicar of Christ, as well as the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, another two of the Twelve Apostles. Altogether, the four of them were the first of the Twelve Apostles to follow the Lord, and were the Lord’s first disciples, leaving everything behind in order to follow Him.
St. Andrew according to the Gospel of St. John and tradition was also one of the disciples of St. John the Baptist, and was one of the two disciples who became first followers of Christ because St. John the Baptist at the moment when he baptised the Lord Jesus at the River Jordan proclaimed, ‘Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world’, revealing that the One he had just baptised, was truly the One Whom God had promised, the Messiah and Saviour of the whole world. St. Andrew and the other unnamed disciple of St. John the Baptist therefore decided to follow the Lord from then on, and it was likely hence that St. Andrew was the one who introduced the Lord to his fellow fishermen, his brother St. Peter as well as the brothers St. James and St. John as mentioned.
St. Andrew the Apostle was often present at many important events in the Lord’s ministry as mentioned in the Gospels. He continued to carry out his ministry amidst the challenges and trials of the world, and all the persecutions facing the faithful after the Lord has suffered, died on the Cross and risen from the dead, and sent out His disciples and the Apostles to the many distant parts of the world to proclaim the Word of God and the Good News of His salvation to all the people in those places. St. Andrew himself according to Apostolic and Church traditions, went to the various regions in the distant north from the Holy Land, in places like Scythia, which corresponds to the modern day parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. He also ministered to the people in other places like the Balkans, establishing the See of Byzantium, which would later on became the principal See of Constantinople of his successors, and Greece among others.
St. Andrew later would suffer martyrdom as described by the traditions of the Church, as he was arrested and condemned to death in the region of what is now Greece. He was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which henceforth would be known as St. Andrew’s Cross. He remained firm in his dedication and faith in God, doing his best in fulfilling God’s missions and calling entrusted to Him. St. Andrew continued to persevere in the mission which the Lord has given him, to the very end. He chose to suffer and die rather than to abandon His mission and to endure the hardships of this world rather than to stay silent amidst proclaiming the words of God’s truth against the falsehoods and evils of this world. His examples, faith and convictions should inspire us in our own way of observing the Law of God and in following His path.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect together on this Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle upon the actions and life work of this Apostle and holy man of God, let us all discern our own actions and way of life, in how we live our lives as Christians in our world today. Have we placed the Lord our God as the centre and focus of our lives, or have we instead allowed ourselves to be swayed by the many temptations and allures of this world that we end up being drawn further and further away from the Lord and His salvation? It is important that we reflect upon these today as we continue to progress through the season of Advent in preparation for the great celebrations at Christmas. That is because we must not be ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, to be the beacons of God’s light and hope in our world today.
Often we may think that we are unworthy or incapable of doing what the Lord has entrusted to us to do, but this is because we do not realise or understand that it is not we who make ourselves worthy of the Lord or decide whether we are worthy or not. Instead, it is God Himself Who calls and has called upon all those whom He deems to be worthy. After all, He knows everything in us, all in our hearts and minds, even to the deepest of our secrets. Nothing is hidden from His All-Knowing might, and hence, He knows perfectly what we are capable of, and He empowers each one of us with unique and variety of gifts, blessings and opportunities to do His will, and to be fruitful in the missions that He has entrusted to each one of us. All of us should follow in the footsteps of St. Andrew the Apostle, and the other Apostles and saints.
The works that the Lord had entrusted to His Apostles and disciples are still far from being completed, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are still many areas where there are people who have not yet known the truth, wisdom and salvation in God, and there are many of those who can be called closer to God and His truth, His salvation and grace by our lives and actions. We have been entrusted with many things by the Lord, and sometimes we ourselves do not realise this, as we are often too preoccupied with worldly matters, our desires and ambitions that we end up being blindsided and unable to realise what a great opportunity that we have been given by God, and how we often squandered those opportunities and gifts, in ignoring and not answering to the call that the Lord has made upon us to follow Him.
Let us all therefore entrust ourselves to the Lord, following the examples that saints like St. Andrew the Apostle had done. Let us all allow the Lord to lead and guide us in our lives so that we may truly walk faithfully down the path that He has prepared for us. Let us all be active in the faithful living and carrying out of our Christian duties and obligations, in being true and shining beacons of God’s light and truth in our world today. Are we willing to commit ourselves to this path? And are we willing to commit our effort, time and attention to do what the Lord had called us to do and entrusted in our care? Let us ask St. Andrew to intercede for us, that God may always be by our side and strengthen us in whatever struggles and paths that He has called us to walk through, now and always, evermore. May our lives, and especially this time of Advent be a truly fruitful one. Amen.