Monday, April 23, 2012

April 24: St. Andrew, Apostle

Saint Andrew, Apostle
By Ann Borges

Who would have thought that Jesus would find his most loyal followers among fishermen?  Jesus’ first disciple and apostle was St. Andrew.  Born in Bethsaida, a principal fishing port in Palestine, Andrew worked with his family.  It was Andrew who introduced Simon Peter, his older brother, to Jesus.  Fishermen by trade, Andrew and Simon Peter are an integral part of Jesus’ mission and after Jesus’ death and resurrection they both became fishers of men instead.

It is in the Gospel of John that St. Andrew is mentioned the most.  It appears that Andrew had a strong sense of curiosity.  He and St. John became disciples of the great St. John the Baptist.  When St. John the Baptist, however, pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Andrew understood Jesus’ importance.  At once he left John the Baptist, and together with St. John followed Jesus and even visited him at home.

Andrew was chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve Apostles and is always listed as one of the top four.  When asked to leave his home, family, and livelihood to follow Jesus, he did it without hesitation.  He understood immediately that Jesus was the Messiah.  Not much is known of Andrew except that he was in fact a devout follower of Jesus.  In the Gospel of John, we learn that it was Andrew who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus before the feeding of the five thousand.  Among the apostles, he was considered to have authority.   Undoubtedly, he was one of the closest to Jesus and was present to share in the graces bestowed by Our Lord.

After Christ’s death and resurrection, it is believed that St. Andrew preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and in Greece.  He then went to Byzantium where he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop. It is believed that he suffered great hardship in a time of many threats and persecution.   

It is said that St. Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in Patras, Greece by the Roman governor.  He chose to face his crucifixion on an X shaped cross (decussate or saltire), which is now commonly referred to as the St. Andrew’s cross.  He chose this type of crucifixion because like his brother Simon Peter; he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the upright cross of Christ.  In order to prolong his suffering, he was bound to the cross by rope around his hands and feet, instead of nailed.  It is believed that he was bound to this cross for 3 days.  While on the cross, even in his last agony, St. Andrew preached to the crowd in an attempt to convert them.  At one point, the Roman governor ordered his men to take St. Andrew down from his cross but they were struck down miraculously by paralysis.  This was a result of St. Peter’s prayer that he be left to undergo martydom. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero on November 30, 60 A.D. and it is on November 30 that we celebrate the feast of Saint Andrew.    

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Greece, Malta, Romania and Sicily, but he has special significance to Scotland.  There are several versions as to how this became, all of which surround certain leaders of Scotland in their time of war, and for this reason, Scotland has adopted the X shaped cross as their symbol.  St. Andrew is also known as the patron saint of fishermen, unmarried women, against gout, and against sore throats.

Although little is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles regarding the life of St. Andrew, much can be learned from what we do know.  He and Saint Peter gave up the only life they knew to follow Christ.  I imagine that Andrew had a special gift.  Upon hearing Jesus speak he immediately recognized Him as the Messiah, but he did not keep this to himself.  He shared this good news with his brother by saying, “We have found the Messiah”.  It didn’t take him long to learn this truth and he was eager to share it. It is as if St. Andrew had a real longing and when he found it shared the wealth. 

As I am learning about St. Andrew, I have asked myself if I have this same yearning to share as Andrew did.  Have I shared what I have learned with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Would I be ready to leave everything behind if Jesus were to appear in front of me today?  I know these are difficult questions for all of us to answer, however, the way we live our lives is a great indication as to what we would do.  What we should do is only possible through constant devotion to scripture as a constant reminder that we need Jesus.    

St. Andrew’s undying faith in a difficult world is an inspiration to all Christians.  I end with St. Andrew’s prayer.  Let us pray to St. Andrew so that he may grace us with the same love, devotion and unfailing trust that he had in Jesus Christ. 

O glorious St. Andrew,
you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God.
With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day,
for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. 
As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him,
Draw us also to Him.
Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service.
Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. The stained glass images of the Apostles are beautiful. Where are the original stained glass panels?