St. Andrew


Having considered the life and martyrdom of the apostle Peter, we now direct our attention to his brother Andrew.
2012-11-24

 

Born in Bethsaida, brother of Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, a fisherman, the first Apostle called; according to legend, preached the Gospel in northern Greece, Epirus and Scythia, and was martyred at Patras about 70; in art, is represented with an x-shaped cross, called St. Andrew's Cross; is honored as the patron of Russia and Scotland; Nov.30.
 
Having considered the life and martyrdom of the apostle Peter, we now direct our attention to his brother Andrew. The difference of personality here is comparable to the difference  between a rough,  stormy  sea and the quiet,     peaceful shore.     Andrew  the
 
 apostle was a man of courage, valor, and manliness. Even his name has a noble meaning, coming from the Greek word "andreios", which is translated "brave". It was already a common name among the Jews two centuries before Christ. This meaning of his name influenced the artists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for the earliest painted conceptions portray him as a man of valiant stature and virile countenance.
 
Serious and quiet and manly was Andrew the apostle-andreios, the brave one. Painters imbue every aspect of Peter's brother with power and strength. The qualities of firmness and resolution and determination characterize this disciple of Christ. He aspired to reach the mountaintops. "Andrew was not small, but big, a little stooped, with a large nose and high eyebrows"-so a ninth-century biography described him. These characteristics were gathered from earlier sources. "Not small, but big"-how well these words describe his character also!
 
The gospels have little to say about Andrew, but this absence of words is significant in itself. He was what the name means, but he lacked those sharp and unpleasant traits that often enough only disfigure and deform brave men. He was neither rude nor harsh, neither crude nor brusque. Spognoletto saw this apostle in the proper perspective when he painted him as a quiet, earnest, friendly old man holding a fish on a rod with his large and strong right hand. It was not the fisherman who caught this most holy fish, but rather it was Christ Himself who called and captured Andrew.
 
Andrew, the First Apostle
 
Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. Whether he was younger or older than Simon is not certain. One is inclined to consider him as the younger of the two, despite his well-balanced personality and agreeable nature. He lived, together with Simon, in the highly honored house in which our Lord Himself stayed as a guest during His journey to Galilee. This abode served as Christ's first-church and pulpit.
 
It is possible that, after the early death of his father Jona (John) of Bethsaida, Andrew left his native village and went to Capharnaum. Here he lived under his brother's roof, with Simon and the latter's wife, children, and mother-in-law. Perhaps this domestic situation is what prompted Christian peoples of long ago to choose Andrew as their patron saint for good marriages and for good weather.
 
Still, it could be that this pair of brothers with the same occupation only worked together. Both were fishermen, and together they managed a modest but always profitable trade, as the Gospel indicates. At the time the abundance of fish in Lake Genesareth and the flourishing business in fish at the markets assured them a good income.
 
It is certainly noteworthy that our Lord chose some of His first apostles from the ranks of ordinary fisherman. Different walks of life were well-represented in the college of apostles: James the Younger and his brother Thaddeus were farmers; Paul was a scholar; Matthew-not to mention Judas was a trader and businessman. But at least six of the twelve were fisherman. Only those who knew the currents and tides, the wind and weather, only those not blinded by the sun or frightened by a storm, only those who were observant and patient as fishermen, could be good and useful apostles. Since Andrew, with his brother Simon, could cast his nets into the quiet, blue sea and after many long hours draw them out, sometimes full, sometimes empty, he was already well-instructed in the beginnings of the apostolate. The two brothers had never surmised that one day they would dedicate the rest of their lives to the Ichthys, Jesus Christ.
 
Possibly, of course, such a pious thought was not too far from their minds. They must have had a stong inclination toward religion. The Gospels do not present this pair only on the sea as fishermen; they are also on the Jordon with John's disciples. The preaching of John the Baptist-" 'The kingdom of heaven is now at hand'"-aroused these two brothers from their simple and quiet life. They were made ready, and they listened for the footsteps of Him who was to come. And it was here with John the Baptist that Andrew met Jesus. It was the great hour of his life. Andrew did not have to search long for the Messias, for Jesus was soon to come to him.
 
No one explains or describes this meeting more beautifully than the evangelist John, who was with Andrew at that time, but who did not mention his own name:
 
John {the Baptist} saw Jesus coming to him, and he said, "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This one who has been set above me, because he was before me." And I did not know him. But that he may be known to Israel, for this reason I come baptizing with water." 
And John bore witness, saying, "I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove from heaven, and it abode upon him. And I did not know him. But he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He upon whom thou wilt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, he it is who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."
 
Again the next day John was standing there, and two of his disciples. And looking upon Jesus as he walked by, he said, "Behold the lamb of God!" And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
 
But Jesus turned around, and seeing them following him, said to them, "What is it you seek?" They said to him. "Rabbi (which interpredted means Master), where dwellest thou? He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour.
 
Now Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard John and had followed him.
 
Andrew was, with John, the first of all to follow Jesus. For this reason many old manuscripts gave him the title of honor "the first-called." His name heads the list of millions who were to follow Christ. Here the proverb was true: "A name is an omen." A name can indicate much. Whoever dares to follow Christ must be andreios-brave, an Andrew.
 
Andrew was also the first of the apostles to call and bring others to Christ. "He found first his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messias (which interpreted is Christ).'" And he led him to Jesus." This same brother of Andrew was later, in a critical hour of his life to confess before Jesus, "'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Certainly this confession of Peter is a climax in the public work of Jesus; it is much more mature and profound than Andrew's loud and happy summons to Peter to go and meet the promised Redeemer. But the credit for having planted the word of the Messias, Christ, the anointed one, in the soul of his brother as the seed of faith belongs to Andrew. His was the honor of introducting Jesus to Simon, and Simon to Jesus. He was given the privilege of "fishing" the first man. From the very beginning, Andrew was truly a "fisher of men," an apostle.
 
It is not surprising that such a high-minded and courageous man as Andrew left everything to follow the Redeemer. However, almost a year after the first meeting with Jesus on the River Jordan, Simon's brother had returned to the sea, to his boat and his fishnet. But his thoughts were no longer on his work. Secretly, Andrew hoped to return to Christ, hoped Christ would return to him. And then Christ did return. This time the Messias called, not just for one journey or for one sermon or for one miracle, but for a lifetime with Him.
 
St Luke's account of the calling of the first disciples also includes the miraculous catch of fish. In great astonishment, Andrew stared with the others at the teeming wonder in the nets. After they had taken nothing the whole night, the Lord, who was no fisherman, told them to try once more. They did, and caught so many fish that their nets, which could not hold them all, began to break; and they had to call for help.
 
On the Jordan it was the personality of Jesus that won Andrew; here on Lake Genesareth it was Jesus' divine power. He heard his brother stammer in embarrassed confusion: "'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.'" But the Messias had come to call Peter, not to send him away. "And he said to them, 'Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And at once they left the nets, and followed him." The small boats rested on the shore, deserted. Andrew was puzzled and saddened when some others left the Lord and walked away. He had come to the shore to embark on the sea of life; it was a wider, deeper, brave, andreios. He was Andrew, the first one, the great one.
 
Andrew holds a prominent place in the four listings of the apostles in Holy Scripture. His name is always among the first four, at the top of the lists, together with the three in whom Jesus especially confided. The evangelists Matthew and Luke place Andrew in the second place, immediately after Simon Peter, even before James and John. In the Canon of the Holy Mass his name also comes immediately after those of Peter and Paul, the two leaders of the apostles. Pope Gregory the Great even added his name in the Embolismus (prayer) after the Pater Noster, along with the names of Mary, Peter, and Paul, whose intercession we request for special favors. Today, Andrew also holds a special place among the faithful; the many and various customs still observed over the world on St Andrew 's Day, November 30, testify to this. Andrew holds a place of preminence among the apostles, and in some respects he is the first among the apostles.
 
Andrew, the Silent Apostle
 
It is very surprising that Andrew remains so silent throughout the Gospels. He is heard even less in the Acts of the Apostles. None of his work remain. No Epistles he wrote has been preserved. In addition to the occasion on which he was called to the apostolate, he is mentioned only three other times in the Gospels
 
The first occured on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias where Jesus miraculously fed a crowd of five thousand. The apostles stood helplessly before the hungry masses who followed Christ, Philip was partly dejected and partly frightened when Christ asked him where they could buy enough bread to feed so many. He hesitated to answer, "'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, that each one may receive a little.'" Then, unobstrusively, almost shyly, Andrew inquired about the provisions on hand. He could report only a pitifully meager result: " 'There is a young boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes.'" and then, feeling almost personally responsible that there was so little to offer, he apologetically added, " 'But what are those among so many?'" And quickly he stepped back again to stand quietly on the side.
 
A second appearance of Andrew is mentioned by St John who- as one might conclude from seeing the two together on the Jordan-always kept a loving eye on this friend of his youth. There were certain converts from among the pagans who had come to Jerusalem to worship God on the day of the Passover. It was Christ's last celebration of this great feast of the Jews, only days before His passion and death. These proselytes approached Philip and inquired, "'Sir, we wish to see Jesus'" The somewhat fussy Philip did not want to take this to the Lord. He could refuse and forget. So, undecided, he took their request, his cause of anxiety, to Andrew. He did not go to Peter, or to John, but to the benevolent Andrew, his close compatriot.
 
In this seemingly unimportant incident Andrew showed his real character. He did not approach the Lord apologetically, but with an air of importance: "Andrew and Philip spoke to Jesus." The evangelist did not mention whether Jesus granted them their request or not he observed, however, that the Lord looked at Andrew and said, "'unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit.'"
 
The third incident in which Andrew played a part, although only a cursory mention is given to it, occured several days after the second, The Lord had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, an event that upset every Jew to the depths of his soul.
 
And as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when are these things to happen, and what will be the sign when all these will begin to come to pass?"
Apart from these three passages, Andrew remained silent and in the background of the Gospels. This is astonishing. How often and how importantly Peter spoke out! How naively James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had pressed forward: "'Grant to us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at thy left hand, in thy glory.'"Such a presumptuous request from Andrew cannot be imagined.
But more curious and unusual is the fact that our Lord Himself let Andrew stand by in silence. Jesus had not called him to a place of superiority among His disciples; it was his brother Simon, who owed his acquaintance with Jesus to Andrew, whom our Lord had called to be the leader of the apostles. But would not Peter's brother also have been capable of holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven, even more fit than the impetuous Peter? And it was not Andrew whom our Lord permitted to rest on His bosom, but John. Did Andrew therefore love his Master less than John? No. He too experienced with John the joy of the "tenth hour."
 
Andrew simply did not belong to the circle of the entrusted three whom our Lord especially had chosed to witness the most important hours of his life; at least not directly as did Peter, James, and John. When Christ was raising the daughter of Jairus to life, certainly this apostle was waiting with the other eight outside the small room. With them he remained behind also when Lord took Peter, James, and his brother John and ascended Mount Tabor for the Transfiguration. Even in the Garden of Olives, Andrew had to remained with the other apostles; he was not permitted to go off a distance with our Lord and the privileged three-although he might have been the only one to keep a watch and pray and not fall asleep.
 
The fact that Andrew was sometimes with the three "elite" apostles and sometimes with the other eight is clearly revealed in the four list of the apostles in Holy Scripture. In St. Mark's Gospel and, what is more surprising, in St Luke's Acts, his name is placed fourth on the list and not in the second place. In these two lists the sons of Zebedee assume the place of honor and Andrew is seemingly crowded out on the brink of the first group. Since Mark's Gospel is based on the words of Peter, it may have been Peter himself, Andrew's brother, who was responsible for this, as Peter may not have wanted to praise a member of his own household. Luke placed St John in the second place on his list to show John's importanat position in the Church.
 
It it no accident John twice mention Andrew together with Philip, as is shown in the two passages cited above. In the four scriptural enumerations of the Twelve, Philip is always the fifth apostle mentioned, the first of the second group. Andrew, fourth on the lists, often sought the company of his companion, Philip the farmer, when he could not go along with the privileged three. St Andrew was one of the first, but the last of the first; and he was one of the silent men of greatness, a great man of silence.
 
It cannot be said that our Lord considered Andrew less important than the first three apostles. On the contrary, what seems to be an oversight on the part of Christ is a great act of trust and confidence. Andrew was the first one to be called, the first born apostle. Between Jesus and him there was a good understanding-and what better testimony is there of this than a silence?-a good understanding such as exists between a father and his oldest son. An oldest son understands the father, even if he is with him in all places and at all times. He know what he wants without special order and instructions. He is loved even when there are no special favors. There is a silence between them, but no two could be closer. This, it can be rightly judged, was the relationship between Jesus and Andrew, a silent understanding and love, a real happiness.
 
The lesson Scripture teaches through this position of the apostle Andrew is that the one who holds a place of honor must not always be the one to speak; and if he is the first, he should also be as the last. It is easier to fall from a high place than from a low place. Andrew, the great last one, showed that it is possible, though difficult, for a great person to practice true humility. He lived according to the words of the Lord: "'Let him who is greatest among you become as the youngest, and him who is the chief as the servant.'" Prosperous and happy is the group that has more great men than high positions; for it is much better if a great man has a small position than if a small man has a great position.
 
Andrew, the Strong Apostle
 
Nothing is known about the apostolic works of Andrew from Holy Scripture. The Gospels tell us nothing. The Acts make no mention of what he did or said at the first Church Council; after his name is mentioned of what he did or said at the first Church Council; after his name is mentioned, St Luke is completely silent about him. There is, however, no reason to doubt that Andrew, even though he did not share in the glory, did take full part in the work.
 
Actually, the very first apostolic work performed by any of the apostles was Andrew's introduction of his brother to Christ. It was also Andrew who tried to mediate for the Gentiles. How he exerted himself whan he was in the midst of the harvest! The Breviary praises him on his feast day: "Andrew made a countless number of convert for Christ through his preaching and miracles." And well can the eloquent words of St Paul's Epistles to the Romans be applied to Andrew:
 
"For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear, if no one preaches?... but I say: Have they not heard? Yes, indeed, "Their voice has gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."
 
The apocryphal "Acts of Andew and Matthew," a writing from the latter half of the second century, designated as the missionary district of Andrew "the town of cannibals," and also called "the town of dogs." These so-called "Acts of Andrew and Matthew"-which often were continued, translated, and rewritten into "Acts of Bartholomew," and "Acts of Paul and Andrew"-are full of pious fables and tales and are scarcely worthy to be quoted. These diverse and numerous "Acts," however, can be sifted to find the one historical kernel of fact, namely, that Andrew and another apostle-there is good reason to believe it was Simon Peter-preached the Gospel in the land of a primitive people.
 
Eusebius (270-339), the father of Church history, recorded that the uncivilized country of Scythia was Andrew's missionary field. Although the exact boundaries of this ancient land cannot be determined with certitude, it was approximately the district of present-day South Russia. This account, however, is questionabe. No trace or sign of Christianity in Scythia during the first three centuries has ever been established as authentic. This ancient region had scarcely any Jewish colonies to which Andrew could have turned; the wild and uncultivated indigenous population-"the town of cannibals"-would certainly not have been susceptible to the Gospel.
 
On the other hand, it is probably true that, as related in other equally old and similar reports, Andrew labored with his brother, Simon Peter, in countries adjacent to Scythia, in such places as Bithynia and Pontus and especially Sinope, districts to the south and east of the Black Sea. The First Epistle of St Peter the Apostle is addressed "to the sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galataia, Cappadocia, Asis and Bithynia." Some later and rather legendary biographies name Lydia, Kurdistand, and Armenia as the fields of Andrew's apostolic mission. It is quite possible that at a later date his apostle journeyed to the west of Bithynia, through Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece, going as far as Achaia, which today is called the Peloponnesus.
 
Many times the paths of Andrew and Paul must have crossed. Paul may have labored more than the others-"I have labored more than any of them"-but he did not labor alone. It was Paul's nature to seek out virgin soil, as he wrote to the Romans: "I have not preached this gospel where Christ has already been named." In his fields many seeds were sown, took root, blossomed, and bore ripe fruit. Paul was indeed the first to plough many a field and sow the seed of Christianity; nevertheless, others followed him to cultivate and irrigate and reap the harvest. This was necessary, or Paul would have labored in vain. In Andrew, the word of our Lord was fulfilled:
 
".. the sower and reaper may rejoice together. For herein is the proverb true, 'One shows, another reaps.' I have sent you to reap that on which thou have not labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.
In Greece, in the seaport-town of Patras, the apostolic labors of Andrew were also greeted with persecution. A "Letter of the Priest and Deacons of Achaia concerning the Martyrdom of St Andrew" clearly explains the death of this holy apostle. This circular letter-it is used as a lesson the Breviary on the feast of St. Andrew-it is not to be confused with the spurious "Acts of Andrew" mentioned previously. It can be traced to the end of the fourth century, and the main contents can be dated back even further to a reliable source concerning the lives and sufferings of the apostle. While Andrew, as bishop of Patras (at that time Patrae) in Achaia, was preaching the Gospel, he was condemned to die on the cross by the governor (helladarchen) Aegeates (also Aegeas). So that the pangs of torture would be the more excruciating and prolonged, he was scourged, the sentence was carried out, but not without the people begging his judge to have mercy. Andrew continued to live for two days on the cross. Thousands ran to the place of execution and pleaded for his release. Even the brother of the governor, Stratocles, is said to have tried to reason with the ruler, but to no avail.
 
After the martyrdom of this apostle, a Samaritan woman buried his body. In the year 356 his relics were transferred to the imperials city of Byzanantium, later called Constantinople, and today Istanbul. In 1462 these relics were taken to Rome, and the two brothers, martyred apostles, Simon Peter and Andrew who had slumbered many a night next to each other in a boat as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, once again were united. Though their bodies are at rest, these brothers are still wide awake fishers of men.
 
Varied and wonderful were the ways in which these fisherman gave themselves up to the holy Ichthys. The exact year of Andrew's death is shrouded in obscurity. Strange to say, the apocryphal works agree in asserting that Andrew died at the time of Mary's Assumption into heaven. Andrew's feast has been celebrated on November 30th since very early times
 
The circular letter of Clerus of Achaia which portrayed the death scene of this brave Apostle in stirring and impressive phrases
 
When Andrew was led to martyrdom, he looked up at his cross and cried out loudly and clearly, "O good cross! From the limbs of the Lord you have received your eternal form, the long awaited, ardently loved, constantly sought cross! Now my yearning soul is ready. Take me away from mankind and give me to my Master. Through you may He receive me Who has redeemed me through you."
 
In the Spring of his year on the Jordan, John the Baptist once called out to his disciple Andrew, "'Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.'" And the Lord Himself only a few days before His Crucifixion answered a request of Andrew with the words concerning the "grain of wheat" that "must die if it is to bring forth much fruit." The expiatory death of Christ may have been more directly meaningful to Andrew than to many other apostle, more profoundly significant to him than to his brother Simon, who at one time made a vehement protest against the cross. Andrew, on the contrary, greeted the cross with joy: "Salve Crux!" It is a hero's greeting. Even if he stuttered and stammered it out, he would be no less heroic. Every submission to the cross, no matter how easy or difficult, is a noble deed. Whoever says "Salve" to his cross is also Andreios, an Andrew, the brave one.