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St. Andrew the First-Called

On December 13th (November 30th by the old calendar) the Church commemorates Saint Apostle Andrew the First-called.

The holy Apostle Andrew, who was the first among Christ’s twelve closest disciples to be called by Him, came from the town of Bethsaida and was the younger brother of Simon (the future Apostle Peter). Disdaining worldly vanity, Saint Andrew decided to forego marriage; instead, hearing that the holy Forerunner John was preaching repentance at the Jordan River, Andrew went to him and became his disciple. When the holy Forerunner, pointing to Jesus Christ Who was passing by, said: “Behold the Lamb of God,” Andrew, together with another of the Baptist’s disciples, the future Evangelist John the Theologian, left the Forerunner and followed Christ. Later he found his brother Simon (Peter) and said to him: “We have found the Messiah, Who is called Christ,” and brought Peter over to Christ. Afterwards, when Andrew and Peter were fishing on the shores of the sea of Galilee, and Jesus called to them, saying: “Follow Me and I will make you catchers of men,” – Andrew, heeding the Lord’s call, immediately left his fishing nets and followed Christ, together with his brother Peter.

Holy Apostle Andrew

After the Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, Saint Andrew, together with the other apostles, received the Holy Spirit, Who descended upon him in a tongue of flame. Later, when the apostles divided among themselves the various countries of the world to which they would spread the Holy Gospel, to Andrew’s lot fell all the countries from Byzantium to the Black Sea and the Danube, and also all the Slavic lands. Passing along the shores of the Black Sea, Saint Andrew preached the Christian faith in all the cities and lands, for which much grief and suffering befell him. Most of all he suffered in the city of Sinope (on the south shore of the Black Sea), where he was dragged along the ground, clobbered with logs, beat with rocks, had his fingers and teeth pulled out; but by the grace of God he became completely well again. Later in Byzantium he ordained Stachius, one of Christ’s 70 disciples, as bishop.

Saint Andrew is particularly close to the Russian heart as the apostle of the Russian land. His apostolic endeavors brought him to the boundaries of the Russian homeland, where he sowed the seeds of faith and piety that produced such an abundant harvest in the future. Passing through Scythia and the Crimean peninsula, by the will of God Saint Andrew reached the Dniepr River and stopped to spend the night in the Kievan mountains. The following morning he said to his disciples:

“Believe me, the grace of God will shine forth in these mountains; a great city will stand here, many churches will arise here, and the Lord will enlighten the entire Russian land with holy baptism.”

Going up into the mountains, the apostle blessed them and erected a cross there, as though foretelling the future conversion of the inhabitants of that land to the faith of Christ. Afterwards, Apostle Andrew passed through various other Russian cities, traveling as far north as the city of Great Novgorod. Saint Andrew reached the end of his apostolic journey in the city of Patras, in Achaia (Greece), where the pagans crucified him on a special cross in the form of an “X,” which subsequently became known as St. Andrew’s cross.




Wondrous is the memory of Andrew, dear brethren, and wondrous is the remembrance of the apostolic net which he used to catch and attract various peoples to the Christian faith. Although the fisherman himself has gone away from us, but the fishing implements which he had used will never become old, and the net which he had spread over the world will never be torn by oblivion. He did not use a fishing rod which wears away with time, nor did he lower into the water a fishing line which becomes frayed with age. He did not use a hook which is corroded by rust, nor did he use food for bait. He did not sit on a stone, nor did he sit in a boat which is buffeted by waves, and it was not the mute fish which he caught.

No, dear brethren, for just as his manner of fishing was highly artful, so his implements were new and unusual. For instead of a fishing rod - he uses preaching; instead of the fishing line - he labors earnestly; instead of a hook - he uses the power of grace; instead of bait - there are miracles; instead of a stepping-stone - there are the heavens, from which he produces such an extraordinary catch; instead of a boat - he has the altar; instead of fish - he catches even kings; instead of a fishing net - he spreads the holy Gospel; instead of being master of the sea - he rules mens lives; instead of nets - he uses the cross.

Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called
Holy Apostle
Andrew the First-called.

And has anyone ever seen a simple fisherman catch people like fish? O, how great is the power of the crucified Christ! O, how great is the beauty of Divinity! There is nothing in the world as supreme as apostolic grace. Human life has seen much that is truly extraordinary and surpasses understanding. It saw Noahs ark remain afloat during the deluge and the destruction of mankind. It saw Moses commanding the elements. It saw waters made hard as rock and the bottom of the sea opening up. It saw manna being sent from heaven in place of bread. It saw the movement of the sun being stopped by human prayer, and the day made longer by the prayers of Joshua. It saw a chariot fleeting through the air, and the prophet Elias carried away in it.

Human life has seen many such great and amazing events. But there has never been anything like the apostles. They, being the servants of the Word, communed with the One Who, as God, cannot be depicted. They followed in the footsteps of the One Who is everywhere. They sat together with the One Who cannot be contained anywhere. They heard the voice of the One Who created everything with His Word. They traveled all over the world. They destroyed idols like savage beasts, chased away demons like wolves. They united the Church into a flock, they gathered the faithful like wheat. They weeded out heresies like chaff and sowed the word of God like the good seed. And finally, all their deeds shone like the stars. For this reason the Lord said to them clearly: You are the light of the world. So it is that Andrew, when he found the Lord like some wondrous treasure of light, exclaimed to his brother Peter:

We have found the Messiah!

O, what supreme brotherly love! O, what a reversal of natural order!

Andrew came into the world after Peter, and yet he was first to reveal the Gospel to Peter; and look at how he attracted him: We have found, - he said, - the Messiah. This was said with great joy, this was joy united with glad tidings of the treasure which had been discovered. We have found, - he said, - this treasure: abandon, Peter, the poverty of Jewish law, free yourself of its tatters. Leave Bethsaida - for it is an ignoble town; fishing - for it is a trade dependent on the choppiness of waves; the fish - for they are victuals used for gluttony; the Jewish people - for they are a corrupt assembly.

We have found the Messiah, Who had been foretold by the prophets. We have found the Messiah, Who is the treasure of the law. We have found the Messiah, Who had been foreshadowed in images: Whom Micah saw on a throne of glory, Whom Isaiah saw resting on the seraphim, Whom Ezekiel saw resting on the cherubim, Whom Daniel saw among the clouds, Whom Abraham welcomed in his tent. It is Him Whom we have found, Who was born pre-eternally and has now appeared in our times. We have found the Messiah, which means: Christ the Saviour.

O, the great glory of Andrew! O, the depth of apostolic wisdom! O, the fullness of his love!

Let us glorify, dear brethren, this wondrous apostle, and let us love the One Whom he had found - Christ the Messiah, for His is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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