“I have done what was mine; may Christ teach you what is yours.”
These words of freedom spoken by Saint Francis of Assisi’s to his brothers when he was on his deathbed encapsulate Saint Andrew for me. Andrew introduced his brother, Simon, to Jesus, and then watched as Simon became Peter and one of Christ’s inner circle.
Selfless Saint Andrew
A typical response in that situation might be resentment or jealousy. I am sure many of us have had the experience of introducing friends to friends and watching them become close. While there is happiness for them, there is a twinge of sadness of not being part of that "we" anymore. Andrew even became known simply as “Simon’s brother.” All of us younger siblings know what that is like and how easy it is to be annoyed by it!
Yet we don’t see that in Saint Andrew. He is not possessive. He did what was his to do. If he hadn’t, would Simon have become Peter? Would we have the witness of Peter walking on water, or his repentant “yes, Lord, you know that I love you?”
Andrew didn’t have 20/20 Gospel hindsight as we do. He didn’t know how their story would unfold, he merely did what was his to do:
He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah." Then he brought him to Jesus. // John 1: 41
Saint Andrew and Our Lady
At the feeding of the five thousand, Andrew again did what was his to do. Among so many, it was Andrew who notices the boy with the five loaves and two fish. He heard Philip exclaim that 200 days' worth of wages would not provide enough to feed all the people. He could have easily written off the boy’s lunch as not worth mentioning. Instead, he brought it before the Lord, almost with an air of dejection:
There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many? // John 6:8
What strikes is the similarity between Andrew’s words and Our Lady’s words at the wedding feast at Cana: “They have no wine.”
Neither Mary nor Andrew tell Jesus what He ought to do, they do what is theirs to do and let Christ do what is His to do.
All About the Lord's Plan
Perhaps this is the best witness of Andrew after all. He didn't tell Jesus his great plan and ask Jesus to bless it. Instead, Andrew held his information lightly before the Lord and was humble enough to let Jesus use it, or not use it, as He willed. Isn’t this a temptation we all have? Often I tell Jesus my plan and hope He will bless it, but what if I instead held it before the Lord, laid it at the foot of the Cross, and saw what He wanted to do with it?
Like Saint Andrew, I will probably see a greater miracle than what I was trying to engineer on my own.
Saint Andrew's Life Pointed to Christ
Tradition tells us that Saint Andrew spread the Gospel throughout Greece and Turkey after Jesus’ Ascension. He was martyred upon an X-shaped cross. It is believed that he requested this kind of cross because he didn’t feel worthy to die on the same kind of Cross as Jesus. Perhaps he was also thinking that it wasn’t for him to die like Jesus; Jesus had already done that to save us from our sin. Perhaps Andrew knew that the X-shaped cross would make it clear that it was for him enough to die as a witness to Jesus.
The Christmas Novena
Saint Andrew’s feast day falls at the beginning of Advent, and many of us begin the Saint Andrew Christmas novena today. Though the novena is only named after Saint Andrew because it starts on his feast day, I think the prayer would be loved by him.
It is traditionally recited 15 times a day and brings into focus the reason for Advent: the birth of baby Jesus.
Like Saint Andrew did with Saint Peter, the Saint Andrew novena points us to Jesus, our Savior. It reorients us each day to what is ours to do in Advent, to remember how blessed “the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.”
I can’t help but think Saint Andrew might be a perfect patron for Advent. The planning, the preparation, and the parties make this season extremely busy and full. May Saint Andrew intercede for us so that Christ can show us what is ours—and not be jealous or worried about what is not ours—to do.