Thursday, November 30, 2006

Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
The Importance of Being Friends

Readings: Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11; Matthew 4:18-22


What does our Christian faith mean to us? How is it often presented to us? Doesn’t it sometimes seem to be all about a list of beliefs that we need to hold, or a set of religious practices that we need to observe? Indeed, seen from this perspective, the message of our readings – on this feast of St. Andrew the apostle – seem simple enough to understand. How are we saved? We need simply to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe from our heart that God raised him from the dead. And how are we to do this? We must listen to the Good News as it is preached by other people or as it is wordlessly proclaimed by all of creation. The heavens proclaim the glory of God… Simple enough? Seems so. As simple as, for example, listening to a talk or a lecture, or reading a book, understanding the contents and then trying to put them into practice.

And yet, anyone who tries to live out the implications of such belief and confession will testify to the difficulties involved. It’s not easy truly to allow Jesus to be Lord over our whole life, is it? There often seem to be so many other desires, other anxieties, other preoccupations that threaten to displace Him from the throne of our hearts.

Still, we notice how the first apostles respond to Jesus’ call in the gospel. They left their nets at once and followed him. Of course, they underwent many ups and downs after that. They even deserted and denied their Lord in his time of need. Yet we are told that all but one of the Twelve repented and persevered to the end. Could they have done this merely by clinging to a list of beliefs or a set of religious practices? Or was there more to it than that? Was it not rather the person of Jesus that impressed and attracted them to leave all? Did their strength to follow Christ through all the ups and downs of life not come rather from their relationship, their friendship, with the One who called them to be fishers of people? Indeed, do we not get a hint of this crucial personal dimension of our faith in our opening prayer, where we express the hope that St. Andrew may always be for us a friend in God’s presence?

What difference does being friends of and in the Lord make to our lives today?

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