Last night, I was privileged to attend a vigil mass honoring St. Andrew, one of Jesus’ first disciples and patron of my home parish. (After mass, I ate lasagna and homemade tamales at the parish potluck. Reason #4569 to be Catholic. I digress.).
Before I was a confirmed Catholic, I entered my RCIA classes believing I was very Biblically literate. As the weeks and months progressed, it turns out I didn’t know as much about the Bible and its contents as I thought. For example, last night I learned that St. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, the brother of Peter, and is the one who introduced the message of Jesus to Peter. I’ve gone years hearing the story of St. Andrew, but I didn’t really know about the earthly life of our heavenly friend.
However, what I did know is that Andrew was called to become a “fisher of men.” In Matthew 4, Jesus approaches both Andrew and Peter, hard at work in a boat, casting their nets for fish. In verse 19, Jesus simply says “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (NABRE). According to Scripture, Peter and Andrew “left their nets at once and followed Him” (4:19, NABRE). No hesitation, no “Hmm, let me think about it.” No, “Yeah, let me get back with you, Jesus. I’ve got to lock up the house.” They dropped their nets and followed Him.
Andrew’s decision to follow Christ is radical, especially in our modern era. We are, in one form of another, obsessed with comfort and security. I often wonder what Andrew and Peter thought as they literally cast away their livelihoods for the Kingdom. We will never know on this side of Heaven. Yet, can you imagine if Jesus walked into your workplace today and said, “Come after me?” Would you hesitate? What would it take for you to drop everything and follow Jesus? I often think about myself. Foolishly, I assume that I wouldn’t think twice about dropping my “nets” and following after Jesus.
In reality, I probably would think more than twice.
Today, I can think of every excuse in the book. I feel the Holy Spirit’s nudge to give my grocery store cashier an evangelization holy card and I retort: “That would be really awkward and there’s five people behind me waiting in line.” Or, “Yes, I’d love to pray for Mrs. XYZ, but I’ll do it when I’m not angry at her. I want my prayer to be really, really good.” I ask that the Lord will help me grow into His likeness. However, when He presents me an opportunity to grow, I fluster and think, “Seriously?!” Unfortunately, we all have hesitations and comforts that we must overcome in order to become saints.
Like all of Jesus’ apostles (save for John), Andrew was welcomed into Heaven with a martyr’s death. The day was November 30th, 60 AD. It is noted in history that he died in Patras, Greece after suffering crucifixion on an x-shaped cross (now known as St. Andrew’s Cross). Today, St. Andrew is recognized as the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, Barbados, fishermen, pregnant women, and protection against whooping cough. On the anniversary of his martyrdom, we remember St. Andrew for his courage to say “Yes” to Jesus.
St. Andrew, pray for us that we may imitate your courage and abandon comfort in order to bring more souls to Jesus.
O good Cross, made beautiful by the body of the Lord: long have I desired you, ardently have I loved you, unceasingly have I sought you out; and now you are ready for my eager soul. // Attributed to St. Andrew, “Prayer of St. Andrew”
Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of Men. // Matthew 4:18