Saint Andrew: Apostle & Martyr

Today is the Feast of Saint Andrew, the Apostle. Andrew was the first of the disciples to follow Christ, as we learn from multiple accounts in the Gospels. Matthew describes Andrew as fishing in the sea with his brother, Peter, when Jesus walks along and calls them both from their nets to become “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19); John portrays a different scene, wherein John the Baptist, seeing Jesus walk by as he is preaching, identifies him as the “Lamb of God,” where after Andrew follows him promptly and asks, “where do you dwell?” Jesus, in perhaps some of the most profound words of John’s Gospel, responds: “Come and see.” (Jn 1:38, 39) This invitation to come and follow him was enough to spark Andrew’s interest in Jesus’ salvific mission of preaching and living the will of the Father.

Andrew was not finished once he found Christ for himself, though. In fact, the true beauty of his call is that he immediately recognized his duty in bringing others to the same Lamb of God; at once he went to Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah… And he brought him to Jesus.” (Jn 1:41, 42) Andrew’s evangelical approach to the Christian life—really, one that stems directly from his recognizing Jesus as someone truly unique—is ultimately what allowed for Peter’s confession to Jesus: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) Had his brother not shown him the way to Christ, Peter would never have been the one to realize Jesus’ true divinity, and thereby would never have been given, as the first leader of the Church (i.e. pope), the “keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16:19) In short, Andrew’s mission—however small it might have seemed in the beginning—was truly one to bring about the fullness of God’s plan of salvation by means of the Holy Catholic Church.

In the end, this first Apostle’s life reached its ultimate climax when he met his own death in the same manner as his Master: in the horrible suffering of crucifixion. By offering his own life back to the Lord, who first offered his life for us on the Cross, Andrew gives us a model of absolute submission to the will of God, and to the true meaning of being a disciple of Christ: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom 6:5) What a beautiful thing, to have been first called to follow Christ in life, and finally called to follow him in death and into new life! But, this is precisely the call we all share as Christians; nothing less than preparedness for true martyrdom—not simply the daily sufferings we must endure as human beings, but even unto the willing sacrifice of our very life to the greater glory of God! How often do we forget this?

We should pray that Saint Andrew aide us with his prayers, and continue to intercede for us, that our own example of evangelization and self-sacrifice might be dignified, and worthy of the Eternal Life that Our Lord desires so passionately to give to us upon our earthly death. Sancte Andreae, ora pro nobis!