For years now, St. Andrew has intrigued me. It all started when this Blessed is She reflection landed in my inbox back in 2016. Emily’s words resonated with me deeply two months into motherhood, when I was feeling more invisible than I ever had. Since then, St. Andrew’s name has stood out to me as if highlighted every time he pops up in the Gospel readings for the day.
He’s not mentioned too often, speaking up even less—just twice in the Gospel of John. Other than that, he’s always referred to simply as part of the group. In those two instances when his words were recorded, though, they bear a striking similarity. In both cases, they perfectly demonstrate how well he kept his ears open and then was unafraid to speak up.
One of my biggest struggles throughout my life has been listening. Perhaps it’s a bit of a perfectionist streak, my nagging longing to be liked, or my lifelong identity as a writer that makes me feel as though I always need the perfect words. Whatever the cause, I often have to force myself to listen well when someone speaks, rather than plan out the next thing I’ll say. I know this is a weakness. I don’t believe it’s one St. Andrew shared.
John tells us that Andrew was an apostle of St. John the Baptist. When St. John the Baptist uttered, “Behold the Lamb of God” as Jesus passed (John 1:35-36), St. Andrew was nearby. St. John the Baptist didn’t outrightly tell his friends to get up and follow Jesus. But, in this case, he didn’t need to. St. Andrew had clearly been listening to the message of this final prophet during their time together: that another was coming. He was listening in this moment when he found out exactly Who that was. He listened. Andrew heard. He got up and followed Jesus (John 1:37). And then…he spoke up.
…and Knowing When to Speak
And boy, did his speaking up rock the course of history.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas (which is translated Peter). -John 1:40-42
What if Andrew hadn’t been listening that day? What if he had kept the news of Jesus’ presence to himself?
And how often am I not listening? How often am I missing the opportunity to share truth, encouragement, or wisdom because I didn’t hear what I needed to hear in the first place in order to offer those things?
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Bringing What Little We Have
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish,” he told Jesus, “but what good are these for so many?” -John 6:8-9
This is the second quote of St. Andrew’s recorded in the Gospels. I think you can picture the scene as vividly as I can; we’ve heard it time and time again. There’s a hill crowded with thousands of people. There is a tension of restlessness, trying to see and hear the Messiah, and supernatural calm that there, there He is. And there is the sun starting to sink in the sky and one individual realization after another that no one packed food.
We don’t know if St. Andrew was the one who spotted the boy in the crowd of five thousand plus, clutching his measly dinner. We don’t know if the boy presented the food to him, identifying something approachable about the Apostle. But what we do know is that even though this offering seemed insignificant, St. Andrew still brought it to the Lord.
“But what good are these?” Those words ring so true to me. What good are my gifts and talents, when there are others so much more skilled? What good is my donation when a need is so great? And what good is my voice when the world is noisy?
Jesus’ response to St. Andrew is the same ones He gives to us. He takes our tiny offering with gratitude. Maybe He’ll simply accept it with love. But maybe…maybe He’ll use it to work a miracle.
St. Andrew, pray for us!
Don’t forget, the St. Andrew novena in preparation for Christmas begins today. As we pray through Advent, may he intercede for us to listen attentively and speak up boldly, just as he did.On the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle #BISblog // Click To Tweet