Vigils Reading – St Andrew

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Vigils Reading – St Andrew

November 30, 2022


from a Sermon by St. John Henry Newman[1]

St. John the Evangelist, [introduces St Andrew in his gospel] under cir­cumstances which show that, little as is known of this Apostle now, he was, in fact, very high in the favour and confidence of his Lord. In his twelfth chapter he describes Andrew as bringing to Christ certain Greeks who came up to Jerusalem to worship and who were desirous of seeing Him. And, what is remarkable, these strangers had first applied to St. Philip, who, though an Apostle himself, instead of taking upon him to introduce them had recourse to his fellowtownsman St. Andrew, as if, whether from age or intimacy with Christ, a more suitable channel for furthering their petition. “Philip comes, and tells Andrew; and again, Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.”


These two Apostles are also mentioned together in the sixth chapter of the same Gospel, at the consultation which preceded the miracle of the loaves and fishes; and there again Andrew is engaged, as before in the office of introducing strangers to Christ. “There is a lad here,” he says to his Lord, a lad who perhaps, had not courage to come forward of him­self, “who has five barley loaves and two small fishes.”


The information afforded by these passages, of St. Andrew’s espe­cial acceptableness to Christ among the apostles, is confirmed by the only place in the other Gospels, beside the catalogue, in which his name occurs. After our Lord had predicted the ruin of the Temple, “Peter, James, John, and Andrewasked Him privately: ‘Tell us when shall these things be?'” and it was to these four that our Saviour revealed the signs of his coming, and of the end of the world (Mk 13:3). Here St. Andrew is represented as in the especial confidence of Christ; and associated too with those Apostles whom he is known to have selected from the Twelve, on various occasions, by tokens of his peculiar Favour.


Little is known of St. Andrew in addition to these inspired notices of him. He is said to have preached the Gospel in Scythia; and he was at length martyred in Achaia. His death was by crucifixion; that kind of cross being used, according to the tradition, which still goes by his name.



Yet, little as Scripture tells us concerning him, it affords us enough for a lesson, and that an important one. These are the facts before us. St. Andrew was the first convert among the Apostles; he was especial­ly in our Lord’s confidence; thrice is he described as introducing others to him; lastly, he is little known in history, while the place of dignity and the name of highest renown have been allotted to his brother Simon, whom he was the means of bringing to the knowledge of his Saviour.


Our lesson then is this; that those persons are not necessarily the most useful in their generation, nor the most favored by God, who make the most noise in the world, and who seem to be principals in the great changes and events recorded in history; on the contrary, that even when we are able to point to a certain number of persons as the real instru­ments of any great blessings vouchsafed to humankind, our relative estimate of them, one with another, is often very erroneous: so that, on the whole, if we would trace truly the hand of God in human affairs, and pursue his bounty as displayed in the world to its original sources, we must unlearn our admiration of the powerful and distinguished, our reliance on the opinion of society, our respect for the decisions of the learned or the multitude, and turn our eyes to private life, watching in all we read or witness for the true sign of God’s presence, the graces of personal holiness manifested in his elect; which, weak as they may seem to humankind, are mighty through God, and have an influence upon the course of his Providence, and bring about great events in the world at large, when the wisdom and strength of the natural man are of no avail.


     [1]PAROCHIAL & PLAIN SERMONS II, London 1898, 3-4&5.


November 30, 2022
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