Saint Andrew led the way to Christ

The Christmas Novena, also known as the St. Andrew Novena, begins on Nov. 30. The Novena consists of saying this prayer 15 times daily until Christmas: 
"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."

By Kimberly Bruce 

Did you know “The Rock” had a brother? And that he owes him a huge debt of gratitude? 

No, not Dwayne Johnson, the wrestler turned megastar. It’s St. Peter — the “Rock” upon whom Christ established His Church (see Mt 16:18).

On Nov. 30 we celebrate the feast of St. Peter’s brother, St. Andrew. Both were among Christ’s chosen apostles. The interesting thing about St. Andrew, however, is that he was the one who initially led his brother Peter to Christ!

Fishers of Men
Born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, both Peter and Andrew were fishermen. Andrew was also a disciple of John the Baptist. One day, while Andrew and another disciple were standing with the Baptist, John saw Jesus walking by and exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:36). Andrew and the other disciple immediately followed Jesus and remained with Him for the rest of the day. Thereupon Andrew went and found his brother, Simon (Peter), and declared, “We have found the Messiah.” He proceeded to bring Simon to Jesus, and when they had found Him, Jesus said to Simon, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” [translated “Peter,” meaning “Rock”] (Jn 1:40-42).

On a separate occasion, while Peter and Andrew were fishing, Jesus approached them and said, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17). Immediately the two brothers left their nets and followed Him.

Within the New Testament, Peter, Andrew, James, and John are always listed first in the lineup of Christ’s Twelve Apostles. In Mk 13:3, it is also only these four, as a group, who privately ask our Lord about future events to come.

The "Introducer"
Saint Bede called St. Andrew the “Introducer to Christ” because Andrew was not only the one to introduce Peter to our Lord, but he introduced others to Christ, as well. In the Gospel of John, some Greeks were mentioned as having attended a festival in Jerusalem where Jesus and His apostles were present. These men said to the Apostle Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). Philip went to Andrew, and the two together went to tell Jesus. Philip chose not to bring the request directly to Jesus, but presented it to Andrew first, signifying deference to Andrew as something of a leader amongst them.

After Christ’s Ascension, Andrew preached the faith of Christ in Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, as well as in Greece. He succumbed to martyrdom on Nov. 30, 60 A.D. in Patras, Greece during the reign of Rome’s fifth emperor, Nero. According to tradition, while in Patras, Andrew baptized the wife and brother of the governor, Aegeus, who was so outraged at this that he ordered Andrew’s death. Andrew chose to be killed on a “saltire” cross (a diagonal cross in the shape of an “X”) because he did not deem himself worthy to die on a cross like Christ. He was also bound, not nailed, done to prolong his suffering.

Patron of Scotland
Saint Andrew is well known as the patron saint of Scotland, evidenced by the saltire St. Andrew’s Cross on that nation’s flag. He has been Scotland’s patron saint most notably since the year 1320 when the Declaration of Arbroath was sent to Pope John XXII asking for recognition of Scotland’s independence from English rule. The Scots hoped that having the patronage of St. Andrew, brother to the first pope, St. Peter, would gain them influence with the Vatican. Scotland did receive its independence, though not until eight years later, and Robert the Bruce was finally installed as lawful king. Many other countries (such as Russia, Romania, and the Ukraine) claim Andrew as their patron saint, too, and naturally, he is the patron saint of fishermen.

When we find Christ, may we, like St. Andrew, pursue and attend to Him forevermore by the way in which we lead our lives. Like Andrew, may we long to introduce Christ to others — those who do not know Christ and those seeking to know Him better. Like Andrew, may we possess his purity and fidelity to faith in awaiting the Messiah.

May we pray to possess the holy wisdom and discernment Andrew had to recognize Jesus as the true Messiah. May we carry the goodness of heart and humility he manifested enabling him to drop everything, including the very nets of his trade and former trajectory of his life, to follow Christ. And may we love Christ as Andrew did and strive to be the saints each of us is called to be.

Saint Andrew, pray for us!
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