Liturgical Colour : Red
Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the great feast of one of the Apostles, that is St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles and Vicar of Christ. St. Andrew is also known as St. Andrew the first-called, because he was known to be the first Apostle to be called out of the Twelve Jesus had chosen. It was St. Andrew who brought his brother Simon, who is St. Peter, to the Lord and introduced the Lord to him.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of the city and Archdiocese of Constantinople, or New Rome. It is known as such because the Emperor Constantine, who ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, established a new capital in the eastern part of the Empire, in the city he built and named after his own name, which is today known as Istanbul, after its fall to the evil and pagan forces of the Muslim Ottoman Empire.
Not much is known of the actions of St. Andrew in the New Testament, but the Church tradition showed that he established many Christian communities in today’s Greece, particularly in the area now known as Thrace, especially the Christian community of Byzantium, later known as Constantinople when the Emperor established his new city and capital there.
St. Andrew laboured hard for the sake of the Gospel and preached to the unbelievers in the area, earning many converts for the sake of the Lord. Despite difficulties and oppositions and rejections, he continued his ministry with faith, and the faithful communities under his care flourished. And as many of the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, he followed the Lord into death.
St. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which from then on became known as the St. Andrew’s cross. His dedication and faith to the Lord did not make him hesitate to sacrifice even his own life for the sake of the Lord, shedding his blood and giving up his own life for the growth and spread of the Gospel, and for the salvation of more souls to God.
Today we rejoice with our brethren of the Eastern Orthodox Church, headed by the venerable Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle, who had first founded the see of that city. That is why today, we celebrate this great feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the see of our brethren in Constantinople, our brethren in faith, and One as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
It is lamentable and sad indeed, that due to petty political and personal ambitions of the corrupt Patriarch of Constantinople at that time, Michael Cerularius, that this very sad and preventable tragic division of the faithful had to occur, in what is known as the Great Schism of 1054, almost a thousand years ago. It is in the best interest of all the faithful that we all put aside our differences and throw far away the lies, rumours, prejudices, and misconceptions which keeps up the enmity and divisions in our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
We are called today, as St. Paul has shown in the first reading, that we ought to preach the Good News to many people of many nations, and we have to reach out to them, and show them the love of God so that they will be converted to the cause of the Lord, just as St. Andrew himself had done. But we certainly cannot do this, if we ourselves are divided against ourselves.
Yes, first we must show our unity, the unity of the Church as one, the One and only Church of God, which Christ had established Himself on Peter, His Apostle, whom the Lord Jesus had appointed as the first Vicar of His will on this world. Sadly, many people, driven by ambition and human greed would like to see and keep the Church divided as it is, not for the glory of God, but for their own glory, for their own ego.
Following the footsteps of St. Andrew and the other Apostles, that of St. Peter, his brother, let us today, as we celebrate the feast of this great saint, as one Church, remember the mission that the Lord has given to us through His disciples, that we have to go out, and proclaim the words of the Lord, the Good News of Salvation, the salvation in Jesus Christ. And that before all these can be completely done, we must resolve to seek unity among ourselves, to avoid divisions and infighting among ourselves.
We are called to become the fishers of men, as we will catch mankind by thousands, tens of thousands, millions and more, bringing them closer to the Lord. That is why the Lord said to His disciples that they will become fishers of men. We too therefore have been called to be the same as they were, to be the witnesses of the Lord in this world. But fishermen cannot catch the fish if they first fight among themselves, instead of catching the fish and waste much energy, effort, and time in the process, and many fish will be lost.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today on the feast of St. Andrew, we rejoice and celebrate together with our brethren in the Church of Constantinople, that is the Eastern Orthodox Christians. We resolve that we will aim and seek for unity between us, that we will be able to soon once again be perfectly reunited in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the one and only Church that our Lord had built in this world, which He entrusted to Peter and his successors to lead and to be His Vicar in this world.
May the Lord continue to bless us and our loving Church, and bring it closer ever to unity, and with the help of the intercession of St. Andrew, may we be one again, as our Lord is One. Amen.