Ironic Advent 2015 Meditation #2: (Saint) Andrew's Advent
I guess it's kind of cheeky (or ironic) to feel sorry for a saint and martyr, brother of Peter, companion of the Lord, miracle assistant (I like to think of him as a sort of apostolic miracle whip), and, most famously, patron saint of a pretty sweet golf course in Scotland. But I do. If he would have had a better PR guy, I’m sure he would have his own gospel or at least an epistle or two. What, he couldn’t have doubted the resurrection like Thomas if, for no other reason, to get his name in the books (yes two books, scripture and tradition) one really big last time? Doubting Andrew. Or perhaps, Ironic Andrew. Has a certain ring to it.
But no. Andrew pretty much disappears from the story, overwhelmed by James, John, and, obviously, his more visible and oh-so-loud brother, Peter. And, apropos of nothing, how about the names of these two boys? A lot of interpretive ink has been spilled explaining why Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, from something like the reed to the ROCK. But obviously he felt sorry for him since his brother Andrew’s name meant the . . . MAN.
Well, maybe this isn’t exactly an advent meditation, but then, I’m never sure what advent is EXACTLY anyway. All I know is that this is the feast of Saint Andrew, fisherman, fisher of men, and, as I said, the Man. The Greeks have another special name for him too. The first called. I like that. And, for that, we can give thanks and raise a glass of fish extract in honor of this former follower of one amazing and forceful Baptist preacher, who didn’t miss his cue when the script had a sudden change.
For the Gospel of John tells us that Andrew was hanging out with this John character one day when Jesus walked by. John said, “Look over yonder (or some other cool old-school hillybilly expression—these guys not being particularly Oxfordian if you take my meaning). The Lamb of God just walked past. ” And Andrew followed. Not only did he follow, but he quickly went and found his brother Simon. And the rest is history, mystery, and the story of a conspiracy to leave Andrew out of all the really good stuff that James, John, and Peter got to do.
But seriously, I jest. Both. When the moment of Advent comes, and if anything in this confusing concept means anything it’s that Advent is the moment, the sudden event which means everything and is not be missed. Of course, it is also a long, long time of waiting and preparation and doubting and wondering and then more waiting. But sometimes, maybe, he/she/it arrives. Advenit, guys! And some people see and "get" he/she/it. And some of those some go grab somebody else and say, “This is HE/SHE/IT brother, or I’m a rotten hunk of tilapia" (a popular fish in the Sea of Galilee). That, apparently, was language the Reed soon to be the Rock could understand. And that's why Andrew is not only the MAN but is called the first called. And maybe the first to “lead someone else to Christ” as the Baptist (Melvin, not John) likes to say.
And, since this is an ironic Andrean meditation, I remind you that several years later it was Andrew the fisherman, the fisher of men, the MAN, who said to Jesus, “Well, there’s not much here Rabbi, but there is a kid who has five biscuits and two catfish.” Seize the moment, oh ye rarely mentioned apostle. Heck, seize the kid’s fish. Fortunately, Peter didn’t loudly intervene and tell everyone to go home first. Andrew always knew a good thing when he smelled one.
There’s obviously more to be said about Andrew's bones being supposedly buried in Constantinople and supposedly being reburied, mostly, in Italy, not to mention his death, supposedly, by saltire cross (think flag of Scotland).
And, of course, the invention of golf. All interesting information, some of it possibly true, about the apostle who usually got left out of the story.
But without whom . . . maybe nothing.
I’m not sure when, how, or even if he/she/it is coming into our lives anytime soon. But I’ve heard rumours. The moral seems to be this: it’s fine and dandy to hang out with Baptists, but don’t let that stand in the way of your brother being the Pope.
NO, wait a minute--that’s not the moral! The moral is this:
When the sudden event which means everything and is not to be missed arrives, we pray that someone we know and trust, a brother for example, will be there to grab us and make sure we don’t miss all the excitement. That happened to me once, but I've told that story before and I'm sure I will tell it again. But for now, just this: Advent, if it means anything at all, is not only ironic but, when the moment comes, exciting enough to forget about the apostolic power rankings and just hang on for the ride of your life. And Jesus said to them, "Come and See."