Last week the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30). St. Andrew holds a special place in the hearts of many of the seminarians of the Camden Diocese, myself included, as many of us attend or are alumni of St. Andrew’s Hall. To celebrate St. Andrew’s Day here in Rome, a group of eight St. Andrew’s alumni went out to lunch together, followed by a quick stop in a local church dedicated to St. Andrew to say a prayer. Being with these my brothers reminded me of the many moments of joyful fraternity that I have shared during my time in seminary. I feel blessed to call each of them a close friend.
“The Lord loved Andrew and cherished his friendship.” This antiphon, taken from Morning Prayer for the Feast of St. Andrew, can teach us much about Andrew, about Jesus, and about ourselves. It sometimes seems rather odd for us to think that Jesus had friends. Yet, Jesus and Andrew were friends. Much like we do with our friends, they hung out, shared laughs, and stood by each other in moments of difficulty and in moments of joy. Jesus cherished this friendship with Andrew, so much so that He entrusted Andrew with a great mission to go and spread the Gospel after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Tradition tells us that Andrew took this mandate from his friend seriously. He is credited with evangelizing in modern-day Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Georgia, Romania, and Ukraine and with founding the Diocese of Constantinople, whose bishop today, Patriarch Bartholomew, is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The lesson that Andrew leaves behind for every Christian today is that each of us, whoever we are, are called to be friends of Jesus. Jesus invites us to spend time with Him, to tell our joys and sorrows to Him, just as we would with our earthly friends. He promises to be there for us and to stand by us in our joys and our sorrows. But being a friend of Jesus means so much more for each of us. It means that we are willing to be there for Jesus as well. It means accepting the mission that He gives us, whatever that might be. For some of you reading this blog, that mission may be good mothers and fathers, to love your children and raise them in the faith. For others, that mission may be to serve the Church as a priest, deacon, or religious brother or sister. For all of us, the mission that Jesus gives us, His friends, is to spread His message of love to everyone we meet.
May St. Andrew pray for us as we fulfill the great mission that Jesus has given us.