Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Joy and the Mission of Saint Andrew

Happy feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, "the First-Called,” who is greatly venerated in the East, especially by the see of Constantinople, which traces its origin to him. Also, according to the annals of Kyivan-Rus, Andrew was the first to preach the gospel to the “Scythians” in the land of present day Ukraine.

Saint Andrew was Saint Peter's brother, and undoubtedly “unity between the brothers” is his particular concern. Let us therefore join with Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew and pray for unity, on this special day for churches West and East, Latin Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, and Orthodox.

This is the Kontakion for the day in the Byzantine Liturgy: "Let us praise for his courage Andrew the Theologian, first Apostle of the Savior and brother of Peter, for in like manner as he drew his brother to Christ, he is crying out to us: 'Come, for we have found the One the world desires!'"

In the prayer, Saint Andrew calls Jesus "the One the world desires." We have been created for Him. Our hearts are made for Him. The meaning and mysterious reality of the very impetus of life—desire—finds its fulfillment in Him.

What is amazing is that the claim of Jesus is a claim about a man in history (God’s Eternal Word, who became flesh, who became a man like us in all things but sin). He came to dwell with us in our ordinary life. On first hearing this proclamation, one might not be particularly impressed. It might even sound strange. How can this man Jesus of Nazareth be the meaning of everything, “the One the world desires,” the One that I desire in all the depths of my longing for the fullness of life?

In John’s gospel, Nathaniel understood this feeling very well. His first reaction to the news about Jesus was, "can anything good come out of Nazareth?" But the reply was, "Come and see!" (John 1:44-46)

And so the Church says today, "Come and see." And just like the first disciples, the Church does not say, "come and see how great we are." She says, "Come and see that Christ is present, here, not by virtue of our worthiness or coherence, but by virtue of His triumph over sin and death in the cross and resurrection, His wanting to remain with us, His promise to stay with us."