Though Andrew is named among the apostles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, it is in John’s gospel that most is learned about him. Andrew was a Galilean fisherman, mending his nets, when Jesus called him to follow him, which he promptly did. He then seems to have remained with Jesus until the end. He was there at the feeding of the five thousand and then later, when some Greeks in Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus, Philip brought them to Andrew who told Jesus of their desire. Tradition has him travelling on several missionary journeys and eventually being martyred by being crucified on an X-shaped cross. He became the patron saint of Scotland because of a legend that his relics had been brought there in the eighth century.
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew
that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ
and brought his brother with him:
call us by your holy word,
and give us grace to follow you without delay
and to tell the good news of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The heavens are telling the glory of God
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another
and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language
and their voices are not heard,
Yet their sound has gone out into all lands
and their words to the ends of the world.
In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber
and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens
and runs to the very end again,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 4.18-22
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus said: Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.
In these ten words there is so much for us to reflect upon. Firstly, there is the fact that Jesus saw something special in two brothers who were just ordinary men working in the family business. Secondly, there is the immediacy of their response to Jesus’ call to follow him. Then comes the enigmatic challenge to become men who fish for people. So few words, and yet so much to reflect upon and to pray about.
Firstly, comes the recognition of something special in two fishermen. For those who lived by the Sea of Galilee, fishing would have been a major source of work. A large community grew up around the opportunities provided by that great inland stretch of water. There would have been many fishermen, and yet it was Peter and Andrew who were picked out by Jesus to receive the invitation to follow him. What happened by the Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago is still happening today. Jesus is always present with us and Jesus is always calling us into his service. Some will ignore his call, while others will put off responding to it. Some will be incredulous that Jesus might be calling them, while others will be certain that they are deluded or mistaken. Some, the few, will hear the call of Jesus and will follow Peter and Andrew by immediately responding in a spirit of faithful obedience. The challenge to us is to consider how we are responding to Jesus’ call. Are we joyful that he wants us to be among his closest followers, or are we apprehensive and fearful? Are we ready to risk our worldly ‘security’ and follow him, or are we too wedded to the lifestyles we have carved out for ourselves? Are we too proud and self-centred to allow someone else, even Jesus, to tell us what we should be doing, or do we have the humility to understand that Jesus leads us on the path we should be following? However we might receive the call of Jesus in our lives, let us all reflect on how we might respond?
Peter and Andrew responded immediately. The gospel gives no indication of any hesitation. We are told that: immediately they left their nets and followed him. That is a powerful and courageous response to the call of Jesus. Just imagine being brave enough to leave everything and follow the Lord, no matter where he may be leading us. That is exactly what those two brothers did. Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Just imagine what sort of world we would be living in if more people could do the same as Peter and Andrew. Just imagine all that Christian love and compassion unleashed in this divided and cruel world.
And why did Peter and Andrew walk away from the life they knew so well? They left to fish for people. The two brothers probably had no experience of preaching God’s word to those amongst whom they lived but, in response to Jesus’ call, they left everything and began a missionary journey that would last the rest of their earthly lives. They were told by Jesus that he wanted them to preach the Good News of his coming into this world. They would have known that this was a great challenge, and yet, immediately they left their nets and followed him
The challenge in today’s reading is obvious and simple, and yet it is also unbelievably difficult to put into action. Are we ready to abandon our old ways in order that we might take on the challenge of Jesus Christ? Are we ready to respond immediately in order that their might be no delay in putting Christ’s plan into action? Are we ready to share our faith with anybody and everybody we meet?
Just ten words, and yet a life-changing challenge!
Prayers of Intercession
That we may ever be drawn closer into his divine love, let us pray to the Lord.
Bless the Church in her duty of bringing people to Christ. We pray for all missionaries, in this land or throughout the world, who are spreading the Gospel of salvation.
Protect sailors and fishers as they follow their calling upon the sea. Lead safely to their goal all people in the world who are seeking to find and follow the truth.
Inspire us with the spirit of mission and the grace to share our faith with those among whom we live. Bless those who in many ways bring food to our community.
Be with those who must travel and wander through the world, especially those who have no settled homes. Comfort the weary and bring new hope to the sorrowful.
We give thanks for all who have heard and answered the call to faith and now are at rest. Grant them light and peace with blessed Andrew and all the saints.
We offer our prayers through Jesus Christ who calls his chosen to follow him.
Prayer for the week
God of all hope and joy,
open our hearts in welcome,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in us a dwelling prepared for him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my love be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?
John L. Bell (b. 1949) and Graham Maule (b. 1958)