Today’s the Feast of St. Andrew. On the lakeshore in Galilee Jesus called him along with his brother Simon Peter to follow him. The gospels concentrate on what Jesus said and did and offer only a few details about Andrew and the other disciples.
What, then, do we know about him?
He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. The area around the Sea of Galilee was multi-cultural. Would that explain why his Jewish family gave him that name? They came originally from Bethsaida, a trading town. recently excavated along the Sea of Galilee. The family located afterwards in Capernaum. Bethsaida had a substantial Greek population. Did Andrew 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 in Jerusalem. Jesus, rejoicing, sees them as signs that his passion and glorification will draw all nations to him. One can sees why the Greek church has Andrew for its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.
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. 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 the messenger who brings God’s word to others. Tradition says he 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.