“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news” ~ Romans 10:15
On this the day our Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Apostle Saint Andrew, one of the twelve and a martyr for his beloved friend Jesus, our Daily Gospel Passage (Matthew 4:18-22) allows us to revisit and reflect upon the Fishers of Men discourse wherein Jesus calls his first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John.
As Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he noticed Simon (who is called Peter) as well as his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea, which would of course make perfect sense in light of the fact that they were fishermen by trade. "Come after me” Jesus urges them, “and I will make you fishers of men.” We are told that “at once they left their nets and followed him.”
Jesus then continued this fateful walk along the shoreline of the sea and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. Aboard a boat with their father Zebedee, fishermen by trade in their own right, these men were also mending their nets. Jesus calls out to them in similar fashion and we are told that they too “immediately left their boat and their father and followed him.”
What was it about Jesus’ mere presence, his very being, that caused these ordinary men to respond at once and immediately? For that matter, what was it that Jesus saw in these simple fishermen? These men were not Theologians, Sadducees or Pharisee members. Isn’t it interesting to see how time and time again, God calls on his unworthy servants, Andrew and Peter, James and John, you and I, to assist him in his glorious ministry, this despite the fact that he could certainly accomplish His holy will without our help?
One might argue that answering the call of Jesus as Andrew, Peter, James and John did in our Gospel Reading would most definitely be far easier if only Jesus was walking among us today as he did back then. Fact is, he is in our very midst as we live and breathe, whether it be in the celebration of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, quiet time spent in Eucharistic Adoration or simply in the vibrant prayer lives of the faithful. Furthermore, as Jesus tells us time and again throughout Scripture, far more blessed are those who believe even though they do not see. Far more blessed than even the Apostles, Jesus’ closest friends? Yes, you heard that right.
So as we begin this Advent Season, having just lit the 1st violet candle yesterday, that flame which represents the virtue of hope, hope for the faithful in the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting, let that message resonate with you. Share it generously with others. As Saint John Chrysostom points out, “After Andrew spends the entire day with Jesus, he does not keep the treasure for his personal benefit, but hastens to share it with his brothers.”
Immediately...and at once.
“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” ~ Romans 10:18
Saint Andrew, pray for us.