Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

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.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Him.