We celebrate today the Feast of St. Andrew, whom Jesus called on the lakeshore of Galilee along with his brother Peter to follow him. The gospels give only a few details about Andrew, like the other disciples he walks in the shadow of Jesus. The concern of the gospels is Jesus himself; we know his disciples only through him. What do we know about Andrew?
He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. The area around the Sea of Galilee was multi-cultural, which may explain why his Jewish family gave him that name. A lot of trade went on in Bethsaida, where Andrew was from. Did he speak some Greek?
If so, that may be why later in John’s gospel, Andrew and Philip bring some Greek pilgrims to Jesus before his death. Jesus rejoices meeting them, because he sees them as signs that his passion and glorification will reach all nations. One could see also why the Greek church has Andrew as its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.
It’s reasonable to see Andrew as someone interested in religious questions. He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, who points Jesus out to him. Jesus then invites Andrew and another disciple to stay for a day with him. “Come and see.” Afterwards, Andrew “found his brother Simon and said to him ‘We have found the Messiah.’” (John 1,35-41)
For the Greek Church Andrew is the first of the apostles because he’s the first to follow Jesus; then he calls his brother. That was the role of an apostle–to follow Jesus and call others. Each month we honor one of the apostles, In November it’s Andrew.
Tradition says he was crucified on the beach at Patras in Greece. Besides Greece, Andrew’s also the patron of Russia and Scotland.
We humbly implore you, O Lord,
that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew
was for your Church a preacher and pastor,
so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.