Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saint Andrew - Patron of Inclusive Hospitality

Miracles of the Loaves and Fishes ~ Jacob de Backer (1555 -1585) Belgian

TODAY IS THE FEAST of the Holy Apostle Saint Andrew. I'd like to nominate Andrew to be officially called the Patron of Inclusive Hospitality. There are two wonderful Gospel scenes we might pay attention to:

The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past and John looked towards him and said, "Look, there is the lamb of God." And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, "What do you want?" they answered, "Rabbi" - which means Teacher - "where do you live?" He replied, "Come and see," so they went and saw where he lived and stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour.
One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and say to him "We have found the Messiah" - which means the Christ - and he took Simon to Jesus. (John 1:35-41)

John (the Baptist) had his own community of which Andrew was a member. Remember the blood of the lamb on the door posts in the Exodus story is the means by which the people come to freedom. The lamb becomes the ritual symbol of Israel's redemption from our personal slavery and death. Now John is giving Jesus that new designation.

Then Jesus is called Rabbi. In a few lines Jesus will be called Messiah - Christ. There's nothing to say you and I can't have our own titles for Jesus. In another translation the question Jesus asks, "What do you want?" is phrased "What are you looking for?" That's a deeply human question, a cultural question, a global question - even a Church question. What am I looking for? 

Lot's of people drift through life. It never really occurs to them to ask the larger question what is it that I really want? The Dali Lama tells of being invited to a Manhattan penthouse for dinner - the family owning several properties, cars, boats. When he asked to use the bathroom he noticed the medicine cabinet was open (or maybe he peaked) and saw all the prescription bottles lined up for whatever....

"Come and see" - Jesus invites us to an experience. As if to say, "Don't let anyone tell you about me, come and see for yourself." And it is the tenth hour. In the ancient world that's almost four in the afternoon. We're being told:  It's getting late - we don't have forever to address the larger question Jesus raises. 

And in the last verses we see that Andrew immediately goes to find his brother, Simon Peter. Andrew seems to enjoy introducing people to Jesus. "Peter, you won't believe who I've met, you've got to come and meet this man."

~ ~ ~

Then there is this second Andrew incident of inclusion:
Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he had done in curing the sick. Looking up Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, "Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat.?" He said this only to put Philip to the test; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough to give them a little piece each." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother said "Here is a small boy with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that among so many." Jesus said, to them, "Make the people sit down." There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to those who were sitting there; He then did the same with the fish, distributing as much as they wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples "Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothng is wasted." So they picked them up and filled twelve large baskets with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. (John 6:8-13)

In the previous passage Andrew knew the name of the person he was taking to Jesus: Peter. But in this account it is simply, "Here is a small boy." Another translation says, "There is a little boy here." It could just as easily have been a little girl, except that there were only men in the wild place perhaps because they were hoping Jesus was going to form an army to overthrow the Romans and the boy had gotten caught up in the excitement. Or maybe the child had just taken off and followed the crowd, curious as to what was going on. But the boy is nameless. And whenever someone is nameless in the gospel, doesn't it seem we're being invited to step into that person's place or role? That's meditating. That he doesn't know someone's name doesn't keep Andrew from taking him/her to Jesus. 

Let us be glad in the name of Andrew,
the First-Called disciple,
who summoning  Peter
introduced him to Jesus
whose person answers the question,
"What are you looking for?"

Let us bless the name of Andrew,
the First-Called disciple,
ushering the bread-laden boy
to Christ our God:
food in our desert,
God's joy-giving gaze.


  1. There are times in life where I feel like John the Baptist, a leader amongst the crowd, and at other times, the nameless boy, wandering about waiting for direction. I am thankful for the Andrews who call to us and bring us to Jesus.

  2. As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. He was an apostle, called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus' power and to share his life and death. Holiness today is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to welcome others into faith, an outgoing attitude that wants nothing more than to share the riches of Christ with all people.

  3. I so appreciate your account of Saint Andrew. So often we overlook these early saints who forged the way and laid the foundation Christianity with our Lord. Andrew is my son's name named with this Apostle in mind. Thank you Father Stephen for remembering St. Andrew on his feast day. I'll be bookmarking Pauca Verba.

    1. And a blessing for your son on his feast day!

    2. Where am I going? That's a great question. I have to really stop and think about that. I guess that was what Jesus wanted the people to do. What do you want and how will you get it? I guess the answer is salvation? I need a map. I assume that's why Christ gave us His church. Better yet the gospels?

  4. Depending on the translation the question if posed differently: "What do you want?" "What are you looking for?" It's good to have a couple of bibles on hand to compare translations. What pops out in one and not in the other. You answer the question, "I guess salvation." The question is posed to each of us. Try to answer without a religious word but a word that comes from your own deeply felt inside.