ANDREW, THE APOSTLE (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

Andrew or its Greek form Andreas means manly. He is the brother of Simon Peter. Like his brother Peter, he hails from Bethsaida in Galilee.

There are two traditions about his call by Jesus. According to Mark Jesus called Andrew and Peter while they were fishing. As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two fishermen. Simon and his brother Andrew, catching fish with a net. Jesus said to them, Come with me, and I will teach you to catch man. At once they left their nets and went with him (Mk 1, 16-18).

According to the second tradition Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. He followed Jesus when John the Baptised pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God. The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by. There is the Lamb of God! he said.

The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus. Jesus turned, saw them following him, and asked, What are you looking for?

They answered, Where do you live, Rabbi? (This word means Teacher.)

Come and see, he answered (It was then about four oclock in the afternoon.) So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him.

One of them was Andrew, Simon Peters brother. (Jn 1, 35-40).

If we follow this second tradition then we can consider Andrew as the first missionary. As soon as he has encountered Jesus, he brings his brother Peter to Jesus. At once he found his brother Simon and told him, We have found the Messiah. (This word means Christ) Then he took Simon to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, Your name is Simon son of John, but you will be called Cephas. (This is the same as Peter and means a rock) (Jn 1, 41-42).

All three Synoptic Gospels Mathew Mark and Luke and the first chapter of Acts list the name of Andrew among the 12 apostles of Jesus and also describe the call of Simon and Andrew.

Another reference to Andrew in the Synoptic Gospels is the event of Jesus leaving the Synagogue at Capernaum and entering the home of Peter and Andrew. Here is Marks account.

Jesus and his disciples, including James and John, left the synagogue and went straight to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simons mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever, and as soon as Jesus arrived, he was told about her. He went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began to wait on them (Mk 1, 29-31; Mt 8, 14-17 & Lk 4, 38-44).

I am happy to note here that during my two visits to the Holy Land, I had the opportunity to visit excavated sight of first century houses. Today a beautiful Basilica is built above the house of Peter and Andrew.

The Synoptic Gospels mention Jesus foretelling of the destruction of the beautiful Temple at Jerusalem. But only Mark mentions the four names of inner circle of Jesus disciples: Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, across from the Temple, when Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him in private. Tell us when this will be, they said, and tell us what will happen to show that the time has come for all these things to take place (Mk 13, 3-4).

But it is the fourth Gospel we find more specific information about Andrew and his function in the group of Jesus disciples. We already mentioned the call of Andrew by Jesus and Andrew bringing his brother Peter to Jesus in the Gospel according to John.

Then, only John mentions Andrew in the story of Jesus feeding five thousand. Jesus looked round and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, so he asked Philip, Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people? (He said this to test Philip; actually he already knew what he would do.)

Philip answered, For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread.

Another of his disciples, Andrew, who was Simon Peters brother, said, There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But they will certainly not be enough for all these people (Jn 6, 5-9). Johns narration continues that Andrew introduced the boy to Jesus. He took what the boy offered, blessed and divided it to be distributed by the disciples and all in the crowd were fed to their fill.

The last appearance of Andrew in Johns Gospel is after the triumphal entry of Jesus on the first Psalm Sunday. Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, Sir, we want to see Jesus.

Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus (Jn 12, 20-22). Here we see once again Andrew as a good missionary leading the Greeks to Jesus.

According to some traditions preserved by the Church historian Eusebius and the 3rd century apocryphal writing entitled Acts of St. Andrew, Andrew preached in Bithynia, Scythia, Macedonia and Achaia. He suffered persecution, imprisonment and execution of Patrae, on the north-west cost of Achaia in the year 60 AD.

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ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
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