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“To be is to be where you are, who you are, and what you are,” writes Archbishop Rohan Williams former Archbishop of Canterbury, “ a person with a certain genetic composition, a certain social status, a certain set of capabilities…And to talk about God as your creator means to recognize at each moment that it is his desire for you to be, and to be the person you are. It means he is calling you by your name, at each and every moment, wanting you to be you.” 

In the call of Samuel and of the first Apostles, today’s readings shed light on our own calling to be followers of Christ. We know very little of who Andrew was or of what he eventually became. He was the younger brother of Simon, who came to be called Peter. The gospel of John recalls Andrew and another disciple, encouraged by John the Baptist, are first to follow after Jesus. Andrew then goes off to find his brother Simon and announces to him that they “have found the Messiah.” “He brought Simon to Jesus,” the gospel writer tells us, who then welcomed him and gave him his new name, Peter (Jn 1:40-42).

In Christian memory, Andrew lives in the shadow of his older brother, Simon Peter. While Peter is portrayed as the primary spokesman for the twelve and one of Jesus’ closest friends, Andrew stands  in the background. Though he is always named in the list of the disciples, he does not become part of Jesus’ “inner circle”– only Peter, James and John receive that distinction.

But the mentions that are made of Andrew are revealing. At one point in John’s gospel, two strangers come to Philip, asking that they be allowed to see Jesus. Philip tells Andrew, and together they bring the two men to Jesus’ attention (Jn 12:20-22). The two men are Greek, and it seems here that Andrew’s faithful action helps set the stage for a ministry of Jesus that would move beyond the confines of Judaism to reach so many who are Gentiles by birth. There is another scene remembered, where there is a huge crowd who have gathered around Jesus out in the countryside. They are hungry for Jesus’ words of life; they are also desperately hungry. It is Andrew who, among the crowd finds a little boy with loaves of bread and fish to spare and share (Jn 6:8-9).

As with so many of us,  the primary vocation, is to be a follower of Jesus. But within that call, another call seems to take shape, a vocation that is especially Andrew’s, and that reveals to us some of who he was and what he came to be as a follower of Jesus. Though his older brother Peter outshines him in almost every respect, Andrew was given a unique ministry, his particular role seems to be that of pointing to the One who is the Way, and then getting out of the way. He introduces Peter to Jesus. He brings the two Greek men to Jesus. He brings the small boy with bread and fish to Jesus.

 Amidst all the competition of this society in which we live – so consumed with success, recognition and achievement – Andrew’s is a witness. He obviously knew that Jesus called  him . And Andrew said yes and followed and brought others to follow as well. Andrew seems to characterize those words of John the Baptist, spoken in reference to Jesus: “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). Or the words of St Paul, who claimed that “what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake.” (Rom 4:5). St Andrew wanted others to see Jesus , not himself. He was the servant who ushered them into the presence of the Master.

God is constantly calling to each of us. We must desire always, as the apostles did, to stay where the Lord stays, for we are not our own, but belong to the Lord, as Paul says in today’s Second Reading

Whatever the particular role given to us, whatever our unique vocation turns out to be, it is always a vocation of service. We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ. We serve not our own interests, but his. The particular way in which we follow will be an expression of who we are and of what we desire to become. This particular way of following will be a unique gift that we alone can offer back to God. Like Andrew, may we give ourselves unselfishly and humbly to that calling.


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