November 30th is the Feast of St. Andrew. On the lakeshore in Galilee Jesus called him along with his brother Simon Peter to follow him. We only know a few details about Andrew. What are they?
He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. The area around the Sea of Galilee was then multi-cultural. His Jewish family came originally from Bethsaida, a trading town in the upper part of the Sea of Galilee with a substantial Greek population. Would that explain why his Jewish family gave him that name? Did Andrew speak some Greek? Afterwards they located afterwards in Capernaum.
If that’s all so, it could explain why later in John’s gospel, Andrew and Philip bring some Greek pilgrims to Jesus before his death in Jerusalem. Jesus rejoices, seeing them as signs that his passion and glorification will draw all nations to him. One can sees why the Greek church has Andrew as its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.
Bethsaida has been resented excavated.
Can we also see Andrew as someone interested in religious questions? He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, and John pointed Jesus out to him. Jesus then invited 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. Western and eastern Christian churches together celebrate his feast on November 30th.
The letter to the Romans, the first reading for his feast in the Roman Catholic liturgy, stresses there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, and praises messenger who bring God’s word to others. Tradition says Andrews brought the gospel to Greek speaking people. It also claims that Andrew was crucified on the beach at Patras in Greece. Besides Greece, Andrew’s also the patron of Russia and Scotland.
We ask 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.
Troparion (Tone 4) (Greek Orthodox)
Andrew, first-called of the Apostles
and brother of the foremost disciple,
entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world
and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion (Tone 2)
Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God,
the namesake of courage,
the first-called of the Savior’s disciples
and the brother of Peter.
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us:
- “Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!”
Santa’s coming to town for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade. From the parade he’ll go into the store for Black Friday and be there for the rest of the days till Christmas.
But Santa Claus is more than a saleman, isn’t he? He’s a saint– Saint Nicholas. He reminds us Christmas is for giving rather than getting. His story of quiet giving mirrors God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.
Telling his story is one of the ways we can save Santa Claus from being captured by Macys and Walmart and all the rest. First, take a look at our version for little children. Then, you might want to go on to our modest contribution for bigger children– like us:
In a recent issue of the New York Times “Climate News” the author listed a number of resources for Thanksgiving Day when the issue of climate change comes up at table. Is that inviting the day to become a battle ground?
Pope Francis, after completing his encyclical Laudato Si. wrote: “All it takes is one good person” like Noah. Instead of arguing, could we pray this Thanksgving for the spirit of Noah. Here’s the pope’s prayer:
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
As the church year ends we read from the Book of Daniel and the apocalyptic sections of St. Luke’s gospel about the future, the day of the Lord, when the kingdom of God finally comes and humanity and creation itself reach the goal intended by God from the beginning.
But we’re used to normal lives, like that described in Luke’s gospel. Like those in the days of Noah and the days of Lot we prefer “eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building.” (Luke 17, 26-30)
This week’s readings make us uneasy, because they point to a future not normal at all: “wars and insurrections, nation rising against nation, powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues, awesome sights and mighty signs in the sky” And there’s persecution besides.(Luke 21, 7-28) Not easy to accept..
Yes, Jesus promises not a hair of our head will be harmed, we will have the strength to endure whatever happens, we’ll be able to give testimony, we will have the wisdom to understand it all. But still,..
Then, there’s Daniel….
The Book of Daniel recalls King Nebuchadnezzar training Daniel and three other young Jewish exiles in Babylon to serve as his advisors. The king has a lot to do and he needs a brain trust to help him see where he’s been and where he’s going. People in charge always need advisors.
Daniel gives Nebuchadnezzar an unexpected picture of the future. His kingdom will come to an end and other empires take its place. Like all great political powers, his empire has clay feet; it will collapse and fall to the ground. The only kingdom that endures is God’s kingdom, a stone hewn from a mountain.
Daniel wasn’t afraid to present the king with reality. Is that what we learn from him? God works through reality, even wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues, persecutions. Yet, the kingdom of God will come, no matter what. So don’t be afraid of the future.
Some people may have thought Daniel was dreaming. He was really looking at reality. Some people think faith is dreaming, but it isn’t.
“When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21, 28) Look up with faith.
We began this week with the Feast of Christ the King and now all week we’re reading from the Old and New Testament about the last days. We share the kingly power of Jesus. We shouldn’t forget that as we read about a world turned upside down, floods, earthquakes, plagues and famines, when “awesome sights and signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21,11) Who can survive?
Our readings sometimes refer to actual historic events experienced by Jesus and his disciples, like the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. As we look at our times, with its wars, political strife and increasing stores of nuclear weapons, we can be afraid..
Our days can seem like the last days. Even our personal experiences can lead us to believe that. I heard someone say awhile ago he thought the world ended when his marriage broke up. It took him years to get over it.
It’s no accident the Feast of Christ the King opens this week. By baptism we share in the kingly, priestly and prophetic power of Jesus. It’s not enough just to hold on. We should face these days bravely, Jesus says.They’re a time to give testimony. Don’t worry about what words to say or what you are going to do: “I myself shall give you a wisdom that all your adversaries will not be able to refute.” Don’t worry, “not a hair of your head will be destroyed.”
Don’t forget, though, as our reading from St. Luke for the Feast of Christ the King reminded us, Jesus was king, priest and prophet on Calvary.
NOVEMBER 25 Mon Weekday
[Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr]
Dn 1:1-6, 8-20/Lk 21:1-4
26 Tue Weekday
Dn 2:31-45/Lk 21:5-11
27 Wed Weekday
Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28/Lk 21:12-19
28 Thu Weekday
[USA: Thanksgiving Day]
Dn 6:12-28/Lk 21:20-28.
Alternative readings are available in the Lectionary for Mass (Volume IV).
29 Fri Weekday
Dn 7:2-14/Lk 21:29-33
30 Sat Saint Andrew, Apostle
Rom 10:9-18/Mt 4:18-22
St. Clement of Rome, the third successor of the Apostle Peter, according to the earliest lists, is honored in an ancient church near the Colosseum probably built over his home. A wonderful place to visit when in Rome.
Clement wrote an important letter around the year 95 to the church at Corinth, which was having troubles with its leadership. Some refused to follow their church leaders. “The office of bishop gives rise to intrigues,”
The change from apostles like Paul and charismatic preachers like Apollo to bishops was not an easy one for the early communities like the Corinthians. There was no blueprint for mapping new church structures after the death of the apostles. New structures had to evolve. Clement appeals to what all Christians knew–Jesus called people to follow him as a flock follows its shepherd. They must walk together.
“We see ourselves reflected in him,” Clement reminds the Corinthians.Then, using the analogy of the Roman legions, he urges them to be like soldiers who depend on one another. They must be a community to be the church of Jesus Christ.
“Think of the soldiers who serve under our generals, and with what order, obedience, and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. Not all are prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals. The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage.
“Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head. The very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. All work harmoniously together and they are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.
In Christ Jesus let our whole body be preserved intact. Let every one of us be subject to his neighbor, according to the special gift bestowed upon him.
Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect to the strong. Let the rich provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor bless God, who has given them what they need. Let the wise display their wisdom, not by mere words, but through good deeds. Let the humble not bear testimony to themselves, but leave witness to be borne to them by others. Let those who are pure in the flesh not grow proud of it and boast, knowing another has bestowed the gift of continence on them.
Let us consider, then, brothers and sisters, of what matter we were made. Let us consider how we came into this world, as it were out of a grave, and from utter darkness: who and what manner of beings we were. God who made us and fashioned us, having prepared bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into this world.
Since we receive all these things from God, we ought for everything to give God thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Evidently, the problem Clement addressed was not limited to Corinth. His letter was read in a number of other Christian communities of the time. The transition from apostles to bishops was not an easy one.
Fr. Don Senior, in his biography of Fr. Raymond Brown the American scripture scholar, says that one of Brown’s best books was “The Churches the Apostles Left Behind.” Scholars like Brown and Senior say the apostles left churches behind, not one monolithic church that was everywhere the same. The Gospel of Mark, for example, is different from the Gospel of John and it comes from a church different from the church represented in John. There was not one orderly church, but squabbling, disorderly churches, yet churches just the same.
The New Testament churches were developing churches, the scholars say. They describe them as being on a trajectory. They’re not set in stone or isolation or perfect; they’re interacting with each other and their time. And by the power of the Spirit they’re developing slowly into the church that Jesus wants to bring about.
These insights have great consequences for ecumenism, for one thing. The churches the apostles left behind help us understand Christian churches today and the challenge to keep on a trajectory towards Christian unity.
That’s true also of the particular church we may belong to. I’m thinking of something one of the people who comes to our 11 o’clock Mass here at the monastery told me recently. She enjoys the different priests who celebrate that Mass here, she said. “You’re all so different. In fact, I don’t know why you don’t kill each other.”
Certainly one of the reasons why we don’t kill each other is the presence and patience of Jesus himself. For all his complaint about his own generation, Jesus never gave up on it, but gave himself to it day by day, as he does for us. Our prayer and liturgy together keeps us on the path that leads to what God wants us to be.