November 30, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr

November 30, 2010

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St. Andrew with X shaped cross at St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi

An Apostle’s Feast Day. November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew.  All three Synoptic gospels as well as Acts list him as one of the original Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13).

Gospel Information on Andrew. Andrew was born and raised in Bethsaida (Jn 1:44), a fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, only a short distance from Capernaum, another town about a mile to the west.  He had a least one brother, Peter, and they were both fisherman (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16).   At some point they acquired a home in Capernaum where they lived together (Mk 1:29).  Andrew was a Jew, and from the context of Mark’s gospel, it is presumed that he worshiped in the synagogue in Capernaum (see Mk 1:16-31).

Two Versions of Andrew’s Call. When John the Baptist began his prophetic ministry in the desert, Andrew became one of his disciples (Jn 1:35).  On one occasion Jesus walked by and the Baptizer pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” and when Andrew heard this he transferred allegiance and became Jesus’ follower (Jn 1:36-37).  According to the Fourth Gospel Andrew received his call to become a disciple not from Jesus but from the Baptist, and was the first person to become a follower, and it is for this reason that the Eastern Church calls Andrew the “Protoclete” or “the first called.”  Andrew, in turn, went to his brother Simon Peter and called him to follow Jesus (Jn 1:41-42).  Matthew and Mark tell Andrew’s call story differently.  They report that Peter and Andrew were fishing, and that as Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, he beckoned, “Come, follow me,” and they left their nets immediately and followed him (Mt 4:18-20; Mk 1:16-18).

Andrew’s Faith.
Andrew came to faith very quickly, almost instantly, due to Jesus’ compelling presence.  After Andrew met Jesus and stayed with him for only a day, he declared to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:51).

Additional New Testament Information on Andrew. Jesus had a special core group of disciples who were his closest partners, Peter, James, and John, but there were two occasions when Andrew was a fourth:  when Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law and when Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple (Mk 1:29; 13:3).  Andrew is mentioned in three other instances:  when Jesus fed the five thousand, it was Andrew who identified the boy with the five barley loaves and the two fish (Jn 6:8-9); when some Greeks came to Jerusalem for an audience with Jesus, it was Andrew who approached Jesus on their behalf (Jn 12:20,22); and when the apostles were gathered in the upper room before Pentecost, Andrew was there (Acts 1:13).

Early Church History.
The rest of St. Andrew’s story is provided by historians, not Scripture.  After Pentecost Andrew became a missionary and probably traveled to Bithynia, south of the Black Sea, now northern Turkey; and Scythia, much further east between the Black and Caspian Seas, modern Georgia of the USSR.  There are legends that Andrew went to Poland, northern Europe, and Scotland; and general agreement that he went to Macedonia, northern Greece, and Achaia, southern Greece, where he was martyred in Patras in 60 AD on an X-shaped cross.

St. Andrew’s Intercession. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, and Greece, as well as fishermen, fish merchants, sailors, and spinsters or old maids.

St. Andrew’s Symbols. Andrew is represented by an X-shaped cross, the instrument of his crucifixion; a single fish or a fishing net, signs of his profession; a pair of crisscrossed fish which recall both his vocation as a fisher of people and the manner of his death; a carpenter’s square because he helped to build the Church; and a palm branch because he was a martyr.

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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