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From Admirer to Follower


“Faith is letting down our nets into the transparent deeps at the Divine command, not knowing what we shall draw.” ~ Francois Fenelon

As we pause to reflect upon this notion of “letting down our nets” this Advent Season, courtesy of the great French Catholic archbishop, theologian and poet Francois Fenelon, our Church celebrates the first of the Apostles to drop his net, quite literally, to follow Jesus and become a fisher of men.

Saint Andrew is but one of the many members of the Communion of Saints who gave their life for Jesus Christ and the Gospel. He did so with great evangelical ardor, pouring himself out for love of God and love of neighbor, crucified so famously on an “X” shaped cross. Like his brother Peter, who chose to be crucified upside down, Saint Andrew did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same fashion as his Lord Jesus Christ.

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 4:18-22)) we return to that seminal encounter where we find Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee. He spots Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew who were casting their nets into the sea. They were after all fisherman by trade. “Come after me,” he commands them. They in turn came after him. Later Jesus would encounter James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were fishermen and were mending their nets. They too were recruited for their divine mission.

Long time fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are quick to fondly remember the team that won 4 Super Bowls between the years 1975-1980. A big part of their dynasty can be attributed to the 1974 NFL Draft, wherein they secured middle linebacker Jack Lambert, center Mike Webster and wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. All four of these men would ultimately go on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, contributing greatly to all 4 Super Bowl victories along the way. To land four Hall of Famers in a single draft class is simply unheard of. In similar fashion, Jesus had a pretty spectacular “draft” in his own right on the day of his fateful stroll along the Sea of Galilee, landing 4 Apostles in the process.

Matthew in his rendition of this encounter goes out of his way to point out that Andrew left his nets “at once” and followed Jesus. I couldn’t help but think of our Blessed Mother Mary who, on the heels of the Annunciation, preparing to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Luke in his Gospel tells us that “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of her cousin Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39-45).

“At once…” “In haste…” When a spirit-filled disciple discovers God’s divine plan for them, urgency always follows. In fact it was Saint John Chrysostom who observed that “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.” There’s that word again. There’s that urgency to evangelize.

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We too have been given our Mission. As baptized children of God, it is our task to live the Gospel. To show the world what a difference God has made in our lives. The word is full of people who admire Jesus. How can you not? The challenge this Advent Season is to become a true follower of Jesus. It calls for a transformation, a re-centering of our very lives. It means eschewing popularity for truth, to move past the enslavement of societal approval to instead live a life rooted in prayer, sacrifice, honesty, prudence, and courage.

Every encounter with Jesus will gradually deepen your faith in him. The more you open yourself to his love the more he will transform you. This Advent Season, make the conscious decision to drop your net and go from being a mere admirer of Jesus to a follower of Jesus. He has the power to make each and every one of us into something far better than we could ever imagine.

Saint Andrew, pray for us.


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