30Nov 30 November, 2019. St Andrew, apostle

1st Reading: Romans 10:9-18

“How will people hear about the faith, unless it be preached?”

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with he heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Responsorial: Psalm 18

R.: Their word goes out through all the earth

The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message. (R./)

No speech, no word, no voice is heard
yet their span goes forth through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22

The call of the first apostles, including Andrew

As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them to come with him. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.


A Shared Vocation

There is a simplicity about St Matthew’s story of the vocation of Andrew and his friends. Jesus sees four fishermen, the brothers Simon and Andrew and another pair of brothers, James and John, going about their daily work, fishing in the lake, and he invites them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately they all leave their nets and follow Jesus around the country, to share in spreading his message..

The evangelist may have streamlined an experience in the lives of these men that may have been more complex in reality. You would expect them to put up some resistence to such a radical calling, that would mean leaving their familiar lives and heading out into the unknown.

Catching people is a bigger challenge than catching fish. Gathering people into the net of God’s kingdom is harder than catching fish in their nets from the Sea of Galilee. But if there was any hesitation in the minds of Andrew and Simon, they soon overcame it and joined in the project of Jesus for the rest of their lives.

God’s call to each of us is perhaps not all that different to what happened to Andrew and Simon. We can be called us from one lifestyle to another, to go beyond where we are, beyond the familiar, for the sake of promoting God’s will. That call can come to us in small, subtle ways. We may resist it, but if we let it draw us and respond to it, we can discover that the Lord works through us for good in surprising ways.

There is an alternative version of this vocation story, on the banks of the Jordan, where John the Baptist was baptising and where Andrew actually brought his brother to Jesus. About this, St John Chrysostom wrote, “After Andrew had learned much from Jesus, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hurried to share it with his brother. He told Simon: “We have found the Messiah!” This shows how much he has learned in so short a time, and shows the master’s power to convince them of his truth. Andrew’s soul was waiting and longing for the Messiah’s coming. He looks forward to his appearing, rejoices when he appears, and hurries to announce this great event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of goodwill between brothers, of loving kinship and sincere affection.”

Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, says the fourth Gospel. Peter seems to accept Andrew’s word readily and without question. But it does not say that Peter immediately believed, only that Andrew brought him to Jesus. On his feast-day we should give some thought to how we, in our own way, could better follow Jesus and help others also to find his friendship as a force for good in their lives.