Yesterday, November 30, was the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle in the Catholic Church. There are several places in Sacred Scripture where St. Andrew (let’s call him Andy) is mentioned. One is in the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, where Andy is identified as one of two disciples of John the Baptist. On this occasion, John the Baptist, who is talking to the two of them, points to Jesus and says to them: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Andy and the other disciple (who is not identified) subsequently tell Simon, whom, we are told, is Andy’s brother, that they have found the Messiah. Upon introducing Simon to Jesus, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas, which is translated “Peter.” (See John 1: 31-42.). So we have brothers Andy and Pete who are, now, followers of Jesus.
Andy is also mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Chapter 4, and Mark, Chapter 1, again identified as Simon’s brother in each case. This time, both are recognized as fishermen. Jesus happens by just as they are casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee to catch fish when Our Lord says to Andy and Pete “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men,” after which they drop everything and follow Him. (See Matt 4:18-20.). Matthew then mentions that Simon’s name has been changed to “Peter.” Okay, so, yes … Andy and Pete, brothers (sons of Jonah).
I have often wondered how it could be that Andy and Pete, and then, a few steps later, John and James (Johnny and Jim?), sons of Zebedee, were so magically drawn to Jesus that they would “at once drop their nets” and “immediately” become followers of Jesus. (See, for example, Matthew 4:20-22.). But perhaps now I have the answer … simply, the scene in John 1 occurred before the one in Matthew 4! So perhaps they were already familiar with the teachings of Jesus and just needed a little nudge. Luke’s version of this is further reinforcement, although Andy’s name is not mentioned. (See Luke 5:1-11.). Here, Jesus works a miracle for Pete such that Pete, after a day of futility (i.e., no fish caught) on his boat, catches so many fish that his net is breaking. He was awestruck.
If this wasn’t enough for the two of them, there is a third scene in which Jesus works another miracle, this time curing Pete’s mother-in-law of a fever in the presence of both Andy and Pete. (See, for example, Mark 1:29-31.). The chronology of these things, especially given the different versions given by the evangelists, is unclear. But I think it can be said, without doubt, that once all of these things occurred, Andy and Pete were solidly in line behind Jesus, following him and experiencing many more miracles. That is very clear after Jesus tells them that he will give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. Jesus told the crowd that this will result in the reward of eternal life and that they will be raised up on the last day. The promise of eternal life was not enough for many of his disciples at this point, and they returned to their former way of life. But not Pete, Andy and the rest. Pete stated what they all were thinking: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (See John 6:60-69.).
Andy is numbered among the twelve apostles later when the evangelists list their names (See, for example, Luke 6:12-16.). He is also mentioned at the time of the multiplication of loaves and fish, informing Jesus of the presence of the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish that were subsequently multiplied. So let us all rejoice in the life of St. Andy … uh … St. Andrew, and the gift of all the apostles who stuck with Jesus in spite of the suggestion that they will eat his flesh and drink his blood some day. Today, of course, we rejoice because we can partake of this wonderful, one-of-a kind gift every day of our life in the celebration of the Eucharist at Mass. Amen
The photograph accompanying this post was taken on my recent pilgrimage to Italy. It depicts the Last Supper with Jesus and the apostles (and Judas heading out the door). Too bad I don't know which one is Andy! I found it hanging on the wall in a chapel on the grounds of Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.