I was slow this morning to answer the wake up call of my alarm. Perhaps it was the cold (20F degrees) or the fading dream that made me want just a little more time under the blankets. After surrendering to the morning 15 minutes later, armed with my first cup of hot coffee, I went to read about St. Andrew, the saint of the day. I found what I already knew: that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, a fisherman, called as one of the first disciples. There was virtually no other information about Andrew personally, except that he was the one, before the miracle of the loaves and fishes, who spoke up about the boy who had some food with him. We only have legend to tell that he preached the gospel to people in what is now Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras, now the third largest city in Greece.
Not satisfied, I dug a little deeper by reviewing all the canonical gospel stories of Andrew. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, his call to be a disciple is recounted in the same way. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee and sees Andrew with his brother, Simon, plying their trade as fishermen and calls both of them with the direct, if strange invitation: Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. In Luke’s gospel, the spotlight is on Simon Peter, who has a conversation about his unworthiness to be offered such a call by Jesus; Andrew is not mentioned until chapter six where the entire group of apostles is named. John’s version of the story is altogether different as Andrew becomes a major player. Originally a disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew and another disciple of John are present when Jesus again walks into their midst the day after John first recognizes Jesus as God’s Chosen One. They follow Jesus and when he turns around to ask what they’re looking for, they answer with a question: “Rabbi, where do you stay?” At the invitation to “Come and see,” they go along. After spending the day with Jesus, the first thing Andrew does is to seek out his brother Simon to tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” Then he brings Simon to Jesus.
All of this made me consider the notion of call and where it leads when it is heard. How was it that I came to know my vocation in life? Did it grow organically or was it a lightning bolt that shifted my perspective on everything? Did someone invite me to something I had not considered or introduce me to someone who changed my life direction? Did I hear a lecture or take a course that made things fall into place for me? And what have been the events/circumstances that have occasioned the less dramatic decisions in my life, the everyday choices I have made? How do I keep on the path every day?
In this season of Advent, when the call to “Stay awake!” and “Be ready!” is the daily message, we would do well to think on these things and sharpen our ear to hear what might be a next step on our journey.