Here are 3 Important Lessons from Saint Andrew
Though he is only mentioned in the Gospels a few times, St. Andrew has proved himself to be a crucial figure in the New Testament. Each time St. Andrew appears in the Gospels, it is a turning point or famous act in Jesus’ ministry. Although the spotlight does not shine on St. Andrew as brightly as other apostles (compared to his brother St. Peter), St. Andrew has three profound lessons we can learn from his life, especially as we prepare for his feast day on November 30.
Be Quick to Act and Introduce Jesus to Others
St. Andrew, was a disciple of St. John the Baptist. One day as Jesus passed by Andrew heard John exclaim “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:37) and so he left John to follow Jesus. St. Andrew soon realized that Jesus was the Messiah for whom the world had been waiting. His first act was then to find his brother, “He first found his brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which is translated anointed).” John 1: 41.
Andrew brought his brother Simon (who would be renamed Peter by Jesus and would later become the first pope) to follow Jesus (John 1:37-42). St. Andrew is always mentioned after Simon, it is therefore believed that St. Andrew is the younger brother. Both were fishermen before leaving everything to follow Jesus.
The next time we see Andrew is at the site of one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, the feeding of the five thousand. The people have followed Jesus deep into the wilderness to hear him preach. Seeing the crowd tired and hungry, Jesus seeks to console there needs and commands the disciples to feed them. A nearly impossible task, given so many so Phillip responds that two hundred days wages worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each person to have a little bit. However, St. Andrew responds by bringing another to Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” (John 6:9) The rest is history. Jesus multiplied the food such that there were twelve wicker baskets of leftovers.
These events show that not only was St. Andrew quick to act, but his first instinct is also to bring others to Christ. For this reason, St. Andrew is at times referred to as the “Introducer.” Because of this, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year is always the Sunday that falls closest to St. Andrew’s feast day on November 30.
In both of these events, it would have been easy to simply stay silent and not share the Good News of Christ or to not mention what seemed like a crazy solution to the problem. After all, why would Simon follow his younger brother? How could five loaves of bread and two fish extend to feed that many people? St. Andrew didn’t worry about what his brother Simon had to say about Jesus being the Messiah. St. Andrew simply was quick to act and follow Jesus.
How do we speak up about our faith even when it is uncomfortable or seems silly? How do we teach others about Christ? Do we share our meager solutions, even when it seems they are impossible to work, just like the loaves and fishes seemed impossible? Sometimes, by sharing Jesus with others, we can pave the way for something or someone even greater than us, just like St. Andrew bringing Peter, “the rock” of Jesus’ church.
Be Humble (St. Andrew’s Cross)
Tradition has it that St. Andrew went to Greece to spread the Gospel following Jesus’ death. In approximately the year 60 AD, he was crucified for his beliefs by order of the governor. Tradition holds that St. Andrew specifically requested to be crucified in the shape of an X instead of a typical cross as Jesus was. He was also bound to instead of nailed to the cross as it would hurt more. St. Andrew didn’t believe he was worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus.
St. Andrew said when he was crucified (according to The Passion of St. Andrew), “Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.”
“Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you… O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord's limbs!... Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, hail indeed!”
How do we show humility? Do we believe we are as great as Jesus? Or do we realize that we need God’s grace in order to become the best possible version of ourselves? Additionally, are we quick to allow others to have the spotlight? How do we praise Jesus in the midst of our trials and tribulations? Do we trust that God will take our crosses and use them to bring glory to Him and His kingdom?
In order to allow himself to be crucified in such a brutal manner, St. Andrew must have prayed without ceasing. To celebrate this, beginning on his feast day November 30, there is a novena that goes until Christmas Eve. One is supposed to pray the prayer fifteen times each day in order to obtain the prayer request. It goes:
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 the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, 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.
We suggest printing the novena and taping it to your bathroom mirror if you choose to pray it.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Greece and Russia. Additionally, St. Andrew is the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, fishmongers, fishermen, women wanting to be mothers, gout and sore throats. He is known for his intercession for them, continuing his prayers after death.
As you can see, St. Andrew, while not specifically mentioned often in the Gospels, can teach us how to better love Jesus and how to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. Let us remember St. Andrew’s example as we celebrate his feast day.