As we still live in a United Kingdom that includes Scotland, it is fitting to remember St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland and a nice Gallilean Jewish disciple of Yeshua whose name speaks of his ability to cross cultures, languages and people groups.
Saint Andrew was first made the official patron saint of Scotland at the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. By 1390 Saint Andrew appeared on coinage for the first time, although the relics which initially led to his saintly status were destroyed during the Scottish Reformation in the 1500s.
St Andrew was crucified by the Romans on a diagonal cross, with the event apparently taking place on 30 November, hence the choice of day to mark his life.
Collect and Prayers for St Andrew’s day
ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil the holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
IF thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
St. Matthew 4.18-20
JESUS, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, (for they were fishers;) and he saith unto them, Follow me; and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Andrew the Apostle (Greek: Ἀνδρέας,Andreas; from the early 1st century – mid to late 1st century AD), also known as Saint Andrew and called in theOrthodox tradition Prōtoklētos(Πρωτόκλητος) or the First-called, was a Christian Apostle and the brother ofSaint Peter.
The name “Andrew” (Greek: manly, brave, from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valour”), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews, Christians, and other Hellenized people of the region. NoHebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew isPatriarch Bartholomew I.
Who was Andrew?
He was the brother of Peter, who was also known as Simon bar-Jonah. He and Andrew shared the same father, so the latter would have been known as Andrew bar-Jonah. Andrew is regularly mentioned after Simon Peter, which suggests that he was Peter’s younger brother.Like his brother Peter, and their partners James and John, Andrew was initially a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.
What is significant about his name?
The name Andrew (Greek, Andreas) is related to the Greek word for “man” (Aner, or, in the genitive, Andros). It originally meant something like “Manly,” expressing the parents’ hopes for their baby boy.
It is interesting that Andrew’s name is not Aramaic or Hebrew, as might have been expected, but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored. We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present
The fact that their father—Jonah (or Jonas)—gave his elder son (Simon) an Aramaic name and his younger son (Andrew) a Greek name reflects the mixed Jewish-Gentile environment of Galilee.
How close was Andrew to Yeshua?
In the synoptic Gospels and Acts, the twelve apostles are always listed in three group of four individuals. The first of these groups indicates those who were the closest to Jesus. It includes the two pairs of brothers: (1) Peter and Andrew, the sons of Jonah, and (2) James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Andrew was thus one of the four disciples closest to Yeshua, but he seems to have been the least close of the four.
This is reflected in the fact that, several times, Peter, James, and John seem to have privileged access to Jesus, while Andrew is not present.
For example, Peter, James, and John were those present for the Transfiguration, but Andrew was not present. They were the closest three, while Andrew was a distant fourth.
This is ironic because he was one of the first followers of Jesus. In fact, he discovered Jesus before his brother Peter did. He was one of the two initial disciples of John the Baptist who encountered Jesus at the beginning of John’s Gospel.
Because he followed Jesus before Peter and the others, he is called the Protoklete or “First Called” apostle.
He was truly a man of faith and hope; and one day he heard John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as: “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1: 36); so he was stirred, and with another unnamed disciple followed Jesus, the one whom John had called “the Lamb of God”. The Evangelist says that “they saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day…” (Jn 1: 37-39).
Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus. The account continues with one important annotation: “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 means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (Jn 1: 40-43), straightaway showing an unusual apostolic spirit.
Andrew, then, was the first of the Apostles to be called to follow Jesus. Exactly for this reason the liturgy of the Byzantine Church honours him with the nickname: “Protokletos” [protoclete], which means, precisely, “the first called”.
What do the Gospels tell to us about Andrew?
There are three notable incidents. The first occurs when Yeshua performs the multiplication of loaves.
The Gospel traditions mention Andrew’s name in particular on another three occasions that tell us something more about this man. The first is that of the multiplication of the loaves in Galilee. On that occasion, it was Andrew who pointed out to Jesus the presence of a young boy who had with him five barley loaves and two fish: not much, he remarked, for the multitudes who had gathered in that place (cf. Jn 6: 8-9).
In this case, it is worth highlighting Andrew’s realism. He noticed the boy, that is, he had already asked the question: “but what good is that for so many?” (ibid.), and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for the multitude of people who had come to hear him.
When else does Andrew come to the forefront?
A second instance is when he and the other core disciples question Jesus about his statement that the beautiful stones of the temple will be torn down.
The second occasion was at Jerusalem. As he left the city, a disciple drew Jesus’ attention to the sight of the massive walls that supported the Temple. The Teacher’s response was surprising: he said that of those walls not one stone would be left upon another. Then Andrew, together with Peter, James and John, questioned him: “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” (Mk 13: 1-4).
In answer to this question Jesus gave an important discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and on the end of the world, in which he asked his disciples to be wise in interpreting the signs of the times and to be constantly on their guard.
From this event we can deduce that we should not be afraid to ask Jesus questions but at the same time that we must be ready to accept even the surprising and difficult teachings that he offers us.
Is there a third instance in which the Gospels reveal St. Andrew’s importance?
In a third instance, St. Andrew—with his Greek name—serves as a bridge between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus.
Lastly, a third initiative of Andrew is recorded in the Gospels: the scene is still Jerusalem, shortly before the Passion. For the Feast of the Passover, John recounts, some Greeks had come to the city, probably proselytes or God-fearing men who had come up to worship the God of Israel at the Passover Feast. Andrew and Philip, the two Apostles with Greek names, served as interpreters and mediators of this small group of Greeks with Jesus.
The Lord’s answer to their question – as so often in John’s Gospel – appears enigmatic, but precisely in this way proves full of meaning. Jesus said to the two disciples and, through them, to the Greek world: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. I solemnly assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (12: 23-24).
Jesus wants to say: Yes, my meeting with the Greeks will take place, but not as a simple, brief conversation between myself and a few others, motivated above all by curiosity. The hour of my glorification will come with my death, which can be compared with the falling into the earth of a grain of wheat. My death on the Cross will bring forth great fruitfulness: in the Resurrection the “dead grain of wheat” – a symbol of myself crucified – will become the bread of life for the world; it will be a light for the peoples and cultures.
The encounter with the Greek soul, with the Greek world, will be achieved in that profundity to which the grain of wheat refers, which attracts to itself the forces of heaven and earth and becomes bread.
What happened to Andrew in later years?
Some very ancient traditions not only see Andrew, who communicated these words to the Greeks, as the interpreter of some Greeks at the meeting with Jesus recalled here, but consider him the Apostle to the Greeks in the years subsequent to Pentecost. They enable us to know that for the rest of his life he was the preacher and interpreter of Jesus for the Greek world.
Peter, his brother, travelled from Jerusalem through Antioch and reached Rome to exercise his universal mission; Andrew, instead, was the Apostle of the Greek world.
How did Andrew die?
A later tradition, as has been mentioned, tells of Andrew’s death at Patras [in Greece], where he too suffered the torture of crucifixion.
At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus.
In his case it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross, which has thus come to be known as “St Andrew’s cross”.
This is what the Apostle is claimed to have said on that occasion, according to an ancient story (which dates back to the beginning of the sixth century), entitled The Passion of Andrew:
“Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.
“Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you…. O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord’s limbs!… Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, hail indeed!”.
Here, as can be seen, is a very profound Christian spirituality. It does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell into the earth.
Here we have a very important lesson to learn: Our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ, if a reflection of his light illuminates them.