By Denise Trull
I have often wondered why this gregarious, friendly, outgoing Apostle, whose favorite phrase almost always was "come and see," and who loved his friends and family dearly, a man who urgently wanted them to know what he knew, what he had discovered -- why is his feast out here wandering in the lonely hinterlands of the Church year away from their company? Some years this day is buried deeply in apocalyptic prophecies surrounding Christ the King -- or in other years it waits anxiously on the cusp of Advent as the shoot begins to sprout from the root of Jesse. Andrew seems all alone out here without any brother apostles’ feasts to keep him company. And it is odd. For Andrew was the most affable and adventurous people-person of the twelve.
Andrew left his boats earlier than his brother Peter. He wandered off with John to rumors of a fiery Baptist preaching in the wilderness. Andrew was the first among his friends to seek out the Christ and to feel that mysterious call pounding about in his heart. He set out to find Him when his brother Peter was content to stay at home. Eventually, Andrew would return with Jesus in the flesh and introduce Him round to his brother and cousins, for Andrew loved people and he wanted them to love each other. The first thing he thought when he met Jesus was, "I’ll bring Him home to meet my people." In short, Andrew was a networker.
I don't like networkers, usually. They make me nervous. I always wonder why they are talking to me. I worry a bit whether I am only a stepping stone to someone else they really want to meet, someone whom they know is on my 'list' of friends. I fear I will be forgotten as soon as that other friend is achieved. We have all experienced this kind of person at one time or other in our lives and we become wary. No one likes to be manipulated in this way. No one likes to be used and then forgotten for someone ‘better.’ Andrew was nothing like this sort, of course.
There is one networker who always reminds me of the kind of man Andrew might have been. His name was Paul. He was the director of a French language school my children attended for a time in our home school days. He was delightful. Impeccably dressed to the nines at all times, Paul was witty, sometimes wryly and wickedly so. He spent the first part of his adult life working as a Latin and French teacher at an upper crust, boys' prep school. It was the kind of establishment whose name would be dropped in casual conversation at the right sorts of parties simply to impress, or might perhaps be borne as a badge of honor on the back of a car bumper boasting a child who attended this holy grail of schools. Paul, however, never cared a fig for any sort of social status. He seemed completely and miraculously immune to it, though he rubbed elbows daily with the rich and influential. Paul rubbed elbows with all kinds of people.
He was always trying to make introductions between one and another. He knew I home schooled and I thought he would despise me for it -- me, this sometimes harried woman in a jean jumper with talkative children broiling all about her. Paul loved us from the start. I felt it immediately. He asked me countless, really intelligent questions and, quite refreshingly, not a one about socialization. He became more and more intrigued by my children and their way with French.
He wanted me to meet all these students he tutored, and he quite earnestly asked me to talk to their parents about the beauty of home schooling. He would bring me coffee while my kids were in class; he would hold my baby up against his starched Yves Saint Laurent shirt and talk intelligently about trains with my three-year-old. He made me laugh out loud sometimes.
Paul just liked people and he wanted them to meet each other. My life had meaning to him and he wanted it to have meaning to someone else who needed my meaning just at that time. It was never a social ladder that climbed up for Paul -- his was a circle that ever widened. And we all stepped inside it -- me and my jean jumper along with the lady who wore Prada, along with the successful businessman worried sick about his son. It never felt odd. We felt at ease with each other and surprisingly found so much in common because Paul knew intuitively that it would be so, Prada not withstanding. Paul saw through to the human element -- that thing we all have that money can’t buy nor poverty tarnish. A need for each other to carry on and to thrive in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Paul sent help when help was needed -- from people and places we would never dream of in a thousand years, but HE would. He was continually saying, “Come and see this wonderful person. You will love them,” and we always did. He had no other agenda. In him there truly was no guile.
St. Andrew drew everyone into his own newfound world of Jesus in just the same way. To how many fishermen, pharisees, suspicious neighbors, depressed friends, or sick uncles did Andrew say, “Come and see this beautiful man who speaks words to the heart. You will love Him. He will love you! Could He be the Messiah?” Andrew was so sure of it. He wanted everyone else to be sure.
He was the consummate, magnanimous man. No one was forgotten. He invited so many different people to share the love of Jesus. Andrew truly enjoyed the company and the friendships he made along the way. I am sure he loved watching each friend come to Jesus and suddenly realize it was all true. Andrew’s heart was probably rewarded each time with, “You were so right! Thank you for bringing me into your circle.” I think this is precisely why Andrew was called. He simply knew how to widen the circle around Jesus! Part of me hopes that when Andrew died and met Jesus at last on the edge of eternity, the first words he might have heard from the mouth of Jesus were his own favorite, said so many times in his lifetime but now said to him by his great Friend: Come and see! And Andrew stepped into that wide circle of Heaven where all his friends were waiting.
So, why is he at the end of the Church year all alone? Perhaps he is that friendly networker sent to us by Jesus to help lead us out of the lonely darkness of these end times in the Church year. Andrew is our friendly guide into the beginning of things -- this beautiful world Jesus wants us to journey through all over again with new eyes. It is a world with a soft expectant mother deeply thinking, of a baby stirring quietly in His mother’s womb, of prayer and pause and shepherds and kings traveling and wondering as they travel. St. Andrew is calling to us: Come and see! There are people you need to meet. I know you will love them.
St Andrew, patron saint of genuine networkers everywhere, pray for us!