I clearly remember when I was in fifth grade and it was time to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. We had a sort of competition for saint’s names among the students, that name which the Bishop would sign us with after being anointed (sealed) with Chrism Oil and the Holy Spirit. Of course those were also the days when you received a slight slap on the cheek from the Bishop after being confirmed as a “soldier for Christ.” Not a bad concept really. (The soldier, not the slap).
I found myself torn between two saint’s names: St. Anthony of Padua, the Franciscan miracle worker and St. Andrew the Apostle, the brother of Simon Peter. Both significant figures in Christian history but I had to make a choice so I chose “Anthony” as my Confirmation name.
Today’s Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle brought back that childhood memory. Andrew with his brother Simon, was engaged in what he knew best - fishing. But, as they were doing so, a voice cried out to them and Andrew was among the first to be called by Jesus as he walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee:
Matthew 4: 18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
Like my choice of a Confirmation name, Jesus chose these men to be first among his intimate inner circle, later to become “Apostles,” those who were sent. So, we have Andrew, Simon (Peter), James and John to be first among the first. It is interesting that Mark 1: 16 – 20 and Luke 5: 1-11 relate the same event as these fishermen, who were simply minding their own business, being called by pairs: Andrew and Peter, then James and John and each of them are brothers to each other.
St. Andrew was martyred through crucifixion, as was his brother Peter; Peter crucified upside down at his own request so as to honor Jesus’ death through not imitating exactly and Andrew, traditionally on a cross in the form of an X, I would suspect for the same reason as Peter. From simple fishermen to mighty Apostles for the Lord.
John 1: 35 -42, however, puts a bit of a different light on their call. There, John the Baptist, who had captivated the heart of Andrew by his preaching, points the way to Jesus for Andrew: “Behold, the Lamb of God . . .” (Jn 1:36). Andrew follows Jesus but then later returns to find his brother Simon, and invites him to come and follow: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1: 41- 42). In a sense he is the call from the call - the vocation director. St. Andrew is a sign for us of vocation – the call from God into his service.
What is your vocation? We say Marriage and Holy Orders are “vocations,” not occupations or jobs but a Christian lifestyle; a way in which I choose to live my life as a disciple of Christ. Likewise, the single life can be a true vocation as is Consecrated life of men and women in religious orders. Each is a call to holiness and loyalty to Jesus; A daily reminder that we all have a mission given to us by God.
Like St. Andrew, we have a chance each day to bring others to “come and see” who Christ is.