Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO
1st Wednesday of Advent
Feast of St. Andrew
Rm 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22
Yesterday we commemorated the death of our Br. Andrew Nolan and read his necrology in our refectory. Today we celebrate the death of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron saint of Scotland and Russia. He is also one of my patron saints because my parents chose him for my middle name.
In today’s gospel reading from St. Matthew we heard the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, as they were tending to their nets, and then right after that, the calling of their partners: James and John, the sons of Zebedee. All four of them left their nets and their boats and followed Jesus to become fishers of men. This is the tradition preserved in the three Synoptic Gospels. In the Gospel of John we find another tradition. Andrew and an unnamed person were disciples of John the Baptist. As Jesus walked by, John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Andrew and the other disciple then left John and became the first disciples of Jesus. Andrew then brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus.
Peter, Andrew, James and John enjoyed a certain amount of status and honor from being the first ones called. In any list of the Twelve their names always appear first. Whereas James and John tried to take advantage of that fact and jockey for position – asking for places at the right and left hand of Jesus in the Kingdom – Andrew did not. Their focus was ego-eccentric and selfish. Not so, Andrew. Every time we hear of him in the Gospels he is drawing the attention away from himself, not to himself. When there is a big crowd to feed, it is Andrew who points out the boy with two fish and five loaves of bread. Since his focus is on Jesus rather than himself, it comes natural to him to want to bring people to Jesus. As we saw earlier, it was the first thing he did after discovering Jesus. He found his brother, Simon Peter, and excitedly told him, “We have found the Messiah!” And the next verse reads: “Then he brought him to Jesus.” In chapter 12 of John we again see him, along with the apostle Philip, bringing a group of Greeks to Jesus.
This is a great model for us. We should be forgetful of self, and have eyes only for Jesus and for bringing souls to Jesus. But bringing others to Jesus presupposes that we first know Jesus. Andrew had spent a lot of time with Jesus and was completely taken by his magnetic personality. How do we get to know Jesus so that we can bring others to him? One excellent way is to read and reread and meditate on the Gospels. That is where the human side of Jesus comes out. Little details about him can jump out at you that you might not have noticed before. You start falling in love with him and being mesmerized like the people of his own day. Large crowds didn’t follow him for nothing.
Another way to better get to know Jesus is by spending time with him in quiet prayer. Getting to know someone requires spending time with them. He’s there already, inside of us. He’s waiting for us to make time for him. If he’s important enough for us, we’ll make space for him. We’ll find a period of time each day to just be alone with him. We can share our joys and sorrows with him, but we shouldn’t monopolize all the time with our talking. We need silence together to grow. He is very much worth any time we devote to him.