Advent has barely begun yet today the Church asks us to reflect on the call of Andrew. Matthew’s account is laconic (Matthew 4. 18-22). Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, sees two brothers casting their nets and calls them; he goes on a little further, sees two more brothers mending their nets together with their father, calls them, too; and in a twinkling of an eye, Peter, Andrew, James and John are no longer fishermen but fishers of men. We are so used to the story that it no longer shocks, but we should be shocked. Who is this Jesus whose call is so irresistible; who are these men who are ready to drop everything in order to answer? Why does it matter?
The call of Andrew, like that of the other disciples, is both individual and communal, with consequences that stretch far beyond the time and place of first-century Roman Palestine, but without Andrew’s personal response, his own commitment, it would be meaningless — a call unanswered, a path not taken. Advent is rather like that. The Church sets before us the rich treasures of the Old Testament and the Messianic hope of the Jewish people, but unless we are prepared to respond personally, to welcome Jesus as Lord and Saviour, what does it profit us? According to Matthew, Andrew wasn’t doing anything particularly ‘religious’ when Jesus’ call came but his mind and heart were open to the invitation the Word would speak. May our hearts and minds be open also.
Scripture doesn’t shine the spotlight on him like the three that have all the fun. Peter, James, and John are invited into houses when the Lord heals the sick or raises the dead; they get to go up to the mountain to witness the Transfiguration; they’re closer to him during the agony in the garden, and later it’s especially their acts that are recorded and their letters included in the canonical Scriptures.
Andrew gets his fifteen minutes at the beginning of John’s Gospel. Upon meeting Jesus, he immediately goes to his brother Simon Peter to tell him the Messiah has been found. After introducing the future first Pope to his savior, he sinks into the background. Even the few mentions Andrew gets afterward are almost always in reference to his brother. But instead of going on an emotive rant about his superior sibling, Andrew simply takes his place among the other Apostles, following Jesus and spreading the Gospel until his martyrdom some years later. Indeed, if Andrew had constantly compared himself with Peter, he might have become unthankful for his own gifts and ended up looking on his brother with envy or disdain.