St. Andrew the First-Called

Andrew, first-called of the Apostles, and brother of Peter, their leader: intercede with the Master of all that He may grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls. (Apolytikion)

Today we celebrate the memory of the holy, glorious and illustrious first-called Apostle Andrew, the patron of the Church of Constantinople. St. Andrew’s immediate response to our Lord’s call is an example for all of us in our journey of faith.

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” they said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’ clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. Youa re to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (John 1:35-42)

Just as our Lord offered the invitation first to Andrew, “Come and see,” so he offers the same invitation to us. Our faith is not a logical proposition; it is an experience of a living person who loves us and whom we love.

Let us praise for his courage Andrew the theologian, first Apostle of the Savior and brother of Peter, for just as he drew his brother to Christ, he is crying out to us: “Come, for we have found the One the world desires!” (Kontakion)

St. Andrew also gives us an example of discipleship when he is called with Peter from their nets. His response is immediate and without hesitation.

Call of Peter and Andew

As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net intot he 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. (Matthew 3:18-20)

“Follow me”. What do these words mean? For Andrew, it meant leaving his “comfort zone”, abandoning his profession, his world, everything he knew, to follow a young rabbi who was teaching strange things about a new vision of the Kingdom of God. “Follow me”. We receive the same call at our Baptism and every day of our lives. It means we must abandon our egos, our self-absorption, the “feel good” philosophy of our society and allow ourselves to be guided on the path which Christ walks ahead of us. This path is the rough path of the cross, but our only sure safety is to put our feet in his footsteps, to go where he leads, the leave ourselves open to the new life and love that he gives us on the way.

Let us acclaim Andrew, the herald of the Faith and servant of the Word, who fishes men from the depths of error, holding in his hands the rod of the Cross and casting divine power as a net to draw souls from the abyss of evil and to present them as an acceptable offering to our God. O faithful, ceaselessly sing to him with the choirs of disciples of Christ, that he intercede before him to show us favor on the day of judgment. (Doxastikon of the Ainoi)

St. Andrew gave the perfect witness of his faith and love by his death. After having preached in Greece, Bithynia and Thrace, he went to Patras in Greece. As the story is told in the Synaxarion vol. 2 by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra (1999, p. 282):

At Patras Andrew healed Maximilla, the Proconsul’s wife, of an incurable illness, and so brought her to the faith. The other inhabitants of Patras also shared in the blessings he brought with him, and there was soon a large community of Christians in the city. During the absence of teh Proconsul Aegeates, Saint Andrew converted his brother and deputy, Stratocles. On his return, Aegeates was enraged to observe the gains made by the Christians even in his own household, and he had the Apostle arrested. In prison Andrew continued preaching, and he ordained Stratocles as Bishop of Patras. Some days later the Apostle was summarily condemned to be crucified head downwards. How joyful he was to imitate Christ even in the way he was to die for him! After restraining the friends who wanted to procure his freedom, Andrew blessed his faithful for the last time and gave up his soul to God. Aegeates died a violent death soon after, as punishment for his iniquity, and his wealth was distributed to the poor by Stratocles, who built the cathedral church over the place of the Apostle’s martyrdom.

When we are hesitant or doubtful about our role as disciples of Christ, let us turn to St. Andrew and ask him for his assistance to “come and see”.

Having found the primary object of your desires, the One who put on our nature in the compassion of his heart, O Andrew, you united yourself to him in the fervor of your love. You cried out to your brother, “We have found Christ, the One whom the prophets announced in the Spirit. Let us go, that his beauty may delight our souls and spirits; so that, enlightened by his splendor, we may drive away the darkness of ignorance and the night of error, praising and blessing the Lord who grants the world great mercy!” (from the Aposticha of Vespers)