Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle: A Devotional Commentary

Ezekiel 3:16-21 It happened at the end of seven days, that the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word from my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I tell the wicked, You shall surely die; and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he doesn’t turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man does turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man, that the righteous not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you have delivered your soul.

Romans 10:8-18 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart”; that is, the word of faith, which we preach: that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him. For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they didn’t all listen to the glad news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, didn’t they hear? Yes, most certainly, “Their sound went out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Matthew 4:18-22 Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men.” They immediately left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them. They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew. Andrew was a fisherman and brother of Simon Peter and became a fisher or men and the first Apostle called by Jesus. Andrew heard that Jesus was the Messiah from the mouth of John the Baptizer and introduced his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. After Pentecost is believed that Andrew spread the Gospel throughout Greece. But all did not listen to the Good News and eventually Andrew was crucified for preaching the Christ-crucified. According to tradition he was crucified on an X shaped cross. He was bound, not nailed, in order to prolong his suffering. According to some accounts he survived for two days on the cross and preached Christ-crucified while being crucified and then died the third day.

Through the preaching of the Good News the Holy Spirit works faith in us to believe not just that Christ was crucified but that Christ was crucified for us and our salvation. The cross is an offense because it shows how bad our sins really are. They are not just mistakes that God winks at. We are worthy of God's temporal and eternal punishment. In the crucified-Christ we see how bad our sins really are. We also see how great God's love is. God's love is so great that He suffered what our sins deserve. God poured out His own blood for you. God gives you that same blood to drink for the forgiveness of your sins in the Sacrament of the Altar. The message of the Good News is far greater than any earthly message of hope or any kingdom. The Good News is worth getting crucified for because without the Good News all you have is your own works. If all you have is your own works then all you have is eternal damnation.

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