Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feast of Saint Andrew, apostle

(Romans 10:9-18; Matthew 4:18-22)

Although we know very little with certainty about St. Andrew, Catholics probably remember his feast day more than that of any other apostle. November 30 is etched in our minds because of its closeness to the beginning of Advent. The day does not really commence the season, but the Sunday closest to the date always is its beginning.

As Advent begins a new liturgical year, the call of Andrew begins a new chapter in Jesus’ life. Described more specifically in the Gospel according to John but indicated as well in today’s reading from Matthew, Andrew’s vocation marks the beginning of Jesus’ formation of disciples. He will eventually direct part of this entourage – his apostles -- to take his message to the ends of the earth. With this role, as the reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans today indicates, apostles are instrumental to many people’s salvation. They also pay a stiff price for the honor. Tradition views each of the twelve apostles, with the possible exception of John, as martyrs. Andrew is said to have been martyred on an X-shaped cross.

At the beginning of Advent, the feast of St. Andrew anchors the Christ, whom we await at the end of time, to the historical Jesus. We are not to wait for him on our haunches but, like this apostle, by evangelizing with words of truth and deeds of mercy. The suffering that we may experience in doing so will give witness to Jesus’ Lordship over creation.