Thursday, 30 November 2017

Feast of St Andrew -- 30 November

Readings: Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 19; Matthew 4:18-22

Andrew is like the butler in the first group of disciples. It seems that his task is to lead others to Jesus, talking to them about him and to him about them, making introductions. In John's Gospel this happens three times. Towards the end some Greeks who want to see Jesus approach Philip but he goes first to Andrew who is then responsible for organizing the meeting with the Lord. In the sixth chapter, it is Andrew who leads the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the miracle of the multiplication. And at the beginning of the gospel, the most significant introduction, having 'met the Lord and received the gift of faith', Andrew then said to Simon, his brother, 'we have found the Messiah' and he brought him to Jesus. 

Here we see a way of understanding the apostolic mission of preaching the gospel. Our duty, which is also our joy, is to speak of Jesus in whom we find the Christ, our Lord, and to facilitate in every possible way the meeting of other people with him. In the first reading Saint Paul, another great butler of the early church, speaks about the mouth, the heart, and the feet as the places, the faculties as we might say, of this apostolic preaching. These faculties in us are activated by our faith in Christ. What does this mean? We can say that the preaching, beginning on the lips of someone already sent to preach, ends up on our lips, but not without taking root in our hearts and finding expression in our way of life, in the sincerity of our prayers and in the path along which we walk. As they say in English, it is not enough 'to talk the talk', you must also 'walk the walk'. 

It is from the lips of the preacher, the teacher of the faith, that we first hear the proclamation of the gospel. We need someone to open their mouth and to speak for us, or with us, of Christ. On this day of Saint Andrew, my godparents took me to the church of Saint Andrew in Dublin for baptism and there they spoke for me. Later they, my parents, and others spoke to me about Christ. And I learned to believe and, in turn, to speak to others about him. But faith is not only confession with the mouth, it is also believing with the heart. As St. Paul says, 'the heart has only to believe if we are to be justified, the lips have only to confess if we are to be saved by faith'. And then quotes a passage about preachers from the prophet Isaiah, 'how beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good'. 

If the apostolic life is a life of words, a sermon, this life and preaching are activated, says St. Paul, by the word of Christ. The lips, heart, and feet: in the first place and fundamentally it is these faculties in Jesus from which the river of preaching, testimony, and fidelity flows, into Saint Andrew, Saint Paul, Saint Dominic ... into everyone who testifies to their faith in Christ by means of the word, by prayer, and in love.

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