Readings for Wednesday of the first week in Advent: Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 19; Matthew 4:18-22
But How are men to call upon Him whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless sent? Romans 10:14-15
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. The Gospel reading recounts how Jesus first called Andrew and his brother, St. Peter, telling them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) Without hesitation, Peter and Andrew "left their nets and followed him." (4:20)
It seems fitting this first week of Advent to remember the Apostles and to realize that without their living out Christ's great commission to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), none of us would be preparing to celebrate Christmas this Advent. For as St. Paul explains in his letter to the Romans from the first reading, we cannot believe in Jesus and call upon Him unless we have heard of Him, and we would never have heard of Him without preachers (the Apostles) who were sent. So St. Andrew and the other Apostles went forth to the ends of the known world in the first century A.D., preaching the Good News of Christ crucified and raised from the dead, knowing that their spreading of the Gospel would more than likely get them killed one day. Indeed, like all the other Apostles (except St. John), St. Andrew was martyred for the faith, crucified on a "crux decussata" (an X-shaped cross) in Patras, Greece.
Yet despite the Apostles' martyrdom, the Gospel continued to spread like wildfire, and the Church grew without the aid of anything resembling modern forms of communication or travel. Century followed century, one person passing on the Good News of Jesus Christ to another, and that person to another, sharing the wondrous story of God becoming man through the womb of a virgin named Mary. And at some point, from the seeds first planted by the Apostles as commissioned by Christ, that story reached you and me--whether from a parent, a friend, or even a stranger. So now, just as St. Andrew did, we must proclaim the Gospel through our lives this Advent. Let us leave our nets, follow Him, and become fishers of men. Our witness will make Advent possible for future generations.
St. Andrew, ora pro nobis!
God love you.