Monday, 30 November 2020 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ and also the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, the Vicar of Christ. St. Andrew is also often known as St. Andrew the First-Called, due to his background as the likely disciple of St. John the Baptist before becoming a follower of Christ, and according to tradition, one of the two disciples to whom St. John the Baptist proclaimed, ‘Look, there is the Lamb of God!’ referring to the Lord at His baptism.

St. Andrew therefore was indeed the first-called of the Lord’s disciples, and he was the one who introduced the Lord to his brother, St. Peter, as well as the brothers St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee. Those three would be among the closest of the Lord’s disciples, and would often accompany the Lord on important events of His ministry like the Transfiguration and the moment of His Agony in the Gardens of Gethsemane.

St. Andrew himself was also mentioned at the feeding of the five thousand, when he was the one who brought the boy with loaves of bread and fish to Him, that He might give them to the people all waiting in hunger. At that time, St. Andrew did not yet understand what the Lord would do, but the Lord overcame his doubts that those meagre amount of food could feed the whole multitudes of people through the great miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men and thousands more of women and children.

In time, St. Andrew would continue to faithfully serve the Lord through His ministry, and was there throughout His Passion, suffering, death and Resurrection from the dead. From the beginning when he was first called by the Lord to be His follower, St. Andrew had dedicated himself just as his brother and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord had done, ministering to the people and proclaiming the Lord’s coming. And even after the Lord had ascended into Heaven, he continued to preach the faith in a renewed ministry and calling.

St. Andrew brought the faith to many lands, including those areas now known as Ukraine and Russia, the Balkans and Greece among other places. He laboured hard like the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, spreading the Good News to many people, to those who had not yet witnessed and heard about the Lord and His salvation. Many were converted by his works and efforts, and many more were inspired by his ministry.

St. Andrew established the Church in many places and built the foundation for the Christian communities in those places, and most importantly, in the place where a great city now stands, the city of Constantinople, St. Andrew was the first Bishop of the Christian community there. At that time, the place was just a small historic city of Byzantium, at the juncture and crossroads between Asia and Europe. It was there that St. Andrew would henceforth be well remembered as the founder of the See of Constantinople, once Byzantium was rebuilt as Constantinople, the new capital of the Roman Empire.

And just like most of the other Apostles and many other disciples of the Lord, St. Andrew faced persecution and sufferings, and during his ministry in the land of Greece, he was arrested, put to great suffering, and was eventually martyred by crucifixion, being crucified on an X-shaped cross, which would therefore be known as the Cross of St. Andrew, in memory of his faith and dedication to the Lord to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in St. Andrew we have seen a great disciple and follower of the Lord. St. Andrew the Apostle is our inspiration and role model in how he followed the Lord and responded to His call. Are we able to follow his good examples, and respond to the Lord’s call to all of us as well? The Lord has called us all to follow Him and serve Him, and to devote and our attention to bring greater glory to His Name.

Yet, many of us have not realise and appreciate this calling, and many of us remain lukewarm in our faith and passive in how we lived our lives. To be a Christian means we must be ready to face challenges, trials and persecutions as the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had faced, and as the many martyrs of the Church could attest before us all. There are still so much indeed that we can do as Christians, and as members of God’s Church and as His disciples.

Let us all respond well to the Lord’s calling in our respective lives and in whatever contributions we can make in our communities, families, among our circle of friends and more. We do not need to do great and marvellous things, and it is through our little dedications and commitments everyday, through our simple actions, through our words and ways of interacting with each other, that communicates our genuine faith and love for God, which will be the best preaching of the Good News, and we will become like St. Andrew, inspirational example of faith for all of our fellow brethren to follow.

Let us all pray for the good of the Church, and ask St. Andrew to intercede for all of us. In particular, we pray for the full unity of the Church, as the Church of Constantinople and the Eastern Orthodox Communion centred on the See of his successor in Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, that they together will continue their journey towards full reunion and reconciliation with the Universal Church, with St. Peter and his successors, the Vicar of Christ, all fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. Amen.

Monday, 30 November 2020 : 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.

Monday, 30 November 2020 : 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.

Monday, 30 November 2020 : 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.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of the Holy Apostle St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, once a fisherman at the Lake of Galilee together with his brother and with the sons of Zebedee, St. James and St. John, and he was also known to be the one who was first called among the other Apostles, being the one who introduced the Lord to his brother and fellow fishermen.

That was why St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called, as according to the Gospel of St. John, he was one of the followers of St. John the Baptist, who introduced the Lord to his own disciples, some of whom, including St. Andrew, came to the Lord and St. Andrew would then introduce Him to St. Peter, St. James and St. John. He was mentioned again in the Gospel during the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, as the Lord asked His disciples how much food they had, and St. Andrew responded.

Later on, after the Lord’s suffering, Passion, death and resurrection, St. Andrew with the other Apostles led by his brother, St. Peter began their evangelising missions and established the Church of God in various places and communities, and St. Andrew according to the tradition of the Church went to evangelise in the region around the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, in what is now Greece, parts of Eastern Europe and southern Russia, parts of Cyprus and Georgia among many others.

St. Andrew laboured for a long time, enduring many challenges and difficulties throughout his ministry as he had to face opposition and rejections from those who refused to believe in the truth of Christ. He also founded a few Church dioceses and sees, of which the most important one dating to the present day was the See of Byzantium at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, where eventually a great new city and capital of the Roman Empire was built by the Emperor Constantine the Great, the city of Constantinople.

That is why St. Andrew is revered as the Apostolic origin and founder of the Patriarchal See of Constantinople, where his successors as the Archbishop of Constantinople and titled as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reigns. To this day, St. Andrew is revered for his role as a great Apostle of Christ, in his dedication to God’s works and in his tireless efforts to spread the Good News among many of the people and the communities that he had visited throughout his ministries.

Eventually, St. Andrew was also martyred like most of his brother Apostles, being crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is afterwards ever known as the Cross of St. Andrew. St. Andrew the Apostle gave his life and devoted his service to God, in defending his faith and in bringing forth God’s truth and salvation into this world. St. Andrew lived up to his calling as an Apostle, giving everything foe the sake of God and to glorify His Name by all of his works.

But if we think that St. Andrew the Apostle was truly an exceptional man that is beyond us or our means, then we are mistaken. Let us all remember that he was just a mere fisherman, a poor, humble and illiterate man who was probably unexceptional and ordinary in all things, except for one thing. St. Andrew had deep faith in God, the love and trust which he had placed in the Lord Jesus, in following Him with all of his heart and with all of his strength.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was not St. Andrew who justified himself by his own talents, abilities, strengths or capabilities. On the other hand, it was God Who justified him, blessed him and the other Apostles and disciples with the strength, courage and wisdom to carry out the missions that God has called them to do, and which He has entrusted in their hands. God called St. Andrew and his fellow Apostles from humble backgrounds, that they might glorify Him through their works and actions.

Now, what matters is for us to realise that each and every one of us still have many things to do in our lives as Christians, as those whom God has also blessed with faith and called to be His servants and followers. We have been entrusted with the missions and works that the Lord Himself had entrusted to the Apostles, as we are supposed to continue their work and labour as part of God’s same Church. There are still many areas out there that are not yet touched by the love and grace of God, and have not yet heard or known His truth and salvation.

All of us have been blessed by God with unique talents, capabilities, strengths and resources to carry out whatever we need to do for the sake of the Lord and the mission which He has entrusted to us. The question now is, are we willing to accept this mission and do our best to serve the Lord in evangelisation and missionary works following the examples of the Apostles? Many of us have not dedicated ourselves and our lives in a Christian manner unlike what our holy predecessors had done.

And we do not have to think or aim big, brothers and sisters in Christ. Often what we need to do is just to do our best in our daily living, through small and simple acts in our lives, in how we live our lives virtuously in accordance to the teachings of the Church and in remaining true to our Christian faith in our interactions, works, and every small efforts we put in life. That is what we need to do, and not being worried or being too ambitious, but just trusting our lives in the hands of God, and let Him guide us in doing the rest.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that the Lord may strengthen us all in faith through the inspiration of His Apostle, St. Andrew, and through his intercessions for our sake, and that we may be courageous and be committed in living our lives with faith and in embracing our missions as God has entrusted us all, to be the workers and servants of His many wonderful works, and to be the bearers and witnesses of His truth and salvation to all the peoples. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : 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.

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : 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.

Friday, 30 November 2018 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lord, who was called together with his brother, St. Peter, at the shores of the lake of Galilee from his profession as a fisherman. The four Apostles called that day was St. Peter and St. Andrew, brothers, and the sons of Zebedee, also brothers, St. James the Greater and St. John the Apostle and Evangelist.

St. Andrew was the first to be called among the Apostles, and that was why he is also usually known as St. Andrew the First-Called, and was also probably one of the disciples of St. John the Baptist. In the Gospel, St. John the Baptist baptised Jesus at the Jordan at the beginning of His worldly ministry, and he pointed out to his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world!”, pointing out the True Messiah of God to them.

And thus St. Andrew came to the Lord and listened to His call, as He called him, his brother and his fellow fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, to follow the path that God has called them into, to be the disciples of Christ, to be His Apostles and the ones through whom, God would come to exercise many of His wondrous works and blessings in this world. They were no longer mere fishermen, but according to the Lord Himself, they became fishers of men.

The Apostles, twelve among them were the closest collaborators and disciples of the Lord, and St. Andrew was one of them. They followed the Lord wherever He went, and listened to His words and teachings. He followed the Lord to His Passion, suffering and death in Jerusalem, and witnessed His glorious resurrection from the dead and ascension into heavenly glory.

And St. Andrew received the commandment from God together with his fellow Apostles and disciples, to go forth to all the nations, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he and the other disciples of the Lord began the evangelising and missionary efforts of the Church. He went to many places in faraway lands, in what is now today Ukraine, Russia and Greece.

He preached the Word of God and the truth of the salvation in Our Lord Jesus Christ to the people living in those places, calling them to believe in God and to turn away from their past ways of sin. He founded several dioceses and communities of the faithful in the places he went to, and eventually he was martyred in Achaea in Greece, crucified on the X-shaped cross, which would later be known as St. Andrew’s cross.

Now, we have just heard how this simple fisherman of Galilee became a great worker and missionary of God, truly fulfilling what the Lord had Himself said, that he and the other disciples would become fishers of men, and they really did. We have witnessed and heard, and probably read and knew the many good works that St. Andrew and the other Apostles had done, in their courageous and tireless deeds and works to serve God and His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, surely we realise that God has called everyone to follow Him and to be His disciples. He called those whom He wanted to make worthy and not those who think that they are worthy. That is why He called simple fishermen, prostitutes and tax collectors, sinners and thieves just as He also called on the intellectuals and the righteous. What matters is for us to change our way of life so completely, that we orientate ourselves towards God.

Let us all realise that we are the successors of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, in that we have to continue the same mission which God has entrusted to the Apostles and the disciples, in bringing the truth and the salvation of God to more people, of all the nations. We are called to live our lives more faithfully and be living witnesses of the Gospel through our daily living, following in the footsteps of the Apostles themselves.

If the Apostles such as St. Andrew has given his all to dedicate all his efforts to the Lord, then why are we not doing the same? The common answer to this is because of our own pride, our own emotions, temptations in life and all the allures and pressures to abandon the righteous way of the Lord, which have prevented us from giving our all to God. We have also then become more and more distant from God and easier to fall into the traps Satan prepared for us.

Let us all be inspired therefore by the courage and the faith of St. Andrew the Apostle and the many other holy men and women of God, that from now on, for each and every one of us, our lives will be ever more attuned to the Lord and that we will be ever closer to Him. May the Lord continue to watch over us and love us, every days of our life, from now on. May He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully in accordance to His will. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 30 November 2018 : 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.