Venturing into Advent, Catholics seek Christ in his three comings: historically, in our present lives, and at our future judgment. So Advent questions always sound something like this, “Where / How can I find Christ today?” One way to find the Lord is through the lives of the saints. Consequently the saints of Advent are important… and boy do we start with a bang, St. Andrew!
Andrew was the brother of Peter. He was also, according to the account in John’s Gospel (1:35-ff) the first disciple of John the Baptist to follow Christ. In this account, it is Andrew who brings Peter to Christ. What does St. Andrew teach us about coming to Christ? Three points for meditation:
First – Andrew was family… He was Peter’s brother. Whenever we’re looking for Christ, we know we can find him in family. Sometimes family brings us the blessings, the gifts of God. Conversely, family can offer so many opportunities to suffer with Christ for the sake of those we love. No matter what, we know that the Lord loves and works through families. He chose to enter the world through one (Mary and Joseph)… He chose to enter the life of Peter through his brother Andrew. How does he enter your life through your family. (See also, Pope Francis’ homily to families in Philadelphia)
Second – Andrew was young… He was Peter’s little brother. In contrast to Peter’s practical attention to business (he’s always working on his fisherman’s nets), Andrew had gone off to follow John the Baptist, a desert preacher. The idealism of youth is a double-edged sword, but ought never be discounted. Ultimately it brought the Prince of the Apostles himself to meet Jesus. For this reason, youth has always been valued in the Church. St. Benedict (c. 480-543) even included a “youth claus” in his Rule reminding his disciples that the younger brothers should always be allowed to speak first lest they be intimidated by their older confreres, denying the community the benefit of their input.
Third – Andrew is, typically, seen as a patron of the East. As patron of Constantinople (now Istanbul), Andrew is always near and dear to the heart of Greek/Slavic Christianity. St. John Paul the Great, himself a son of the East reminded the Church that she breathes with two lungs, East and West, Greek and Latin. As Roman Catholics, what great lessons, what intimacy with Christ can we gain by studying / valuing the contributions of our Eastern brethren?
Last but not least, Andrew was martyred. He gave himself completely for the sake of the love of God. While most of us – I hope – will not have to die at the hands of torturers, we can all give ourselves over completely to what we are about at any given moment. This includes, being diligent at work… being patient listeners… being benevolent teachers… and loving friends. Complete self-gift at any given moment is a sure way to find Christ, who gave himself completely for us on the Cross.