Thursday, January 04, 2007

St. Andrew returns

We have dear St. Andrew in the Gospel again, and something new struck me. The story is from the very beginning of John's Gospel. Andrew and another disciple were with John the Baptist. Jesus passed by, and John pointed him out as the Lamb of God. Andrew and the other one begin following Jesus, who eventually notices them, asks them what they are looking for, and when they say "Where do you stay, Master?" invites them to stay (remain, abide) with him. And they do.
Then the Gospel says, "But first, Andrew found his brother Simon..."
You can almost picture Jesus with the two disciples, approaching the little hut where Jesus was staying for the feast of booths. And suddenly Andrew turns and starts running off, yelling over his shoulder, "I'll be right back!"
And yet the Gospel explicitly says, right before this, that they went and stayed with him. So Andrew was "abiding" with Jesus even as he ran away from where Jesus was staying, in order to bring his brother on board. That is because it was no longer Andrew who lived, but Jesus who lived in Andrew. Andrew still lived his human life, but it was a life of faith in the Son of God... (to use St. Paul's expression in Gal. 2: 19-20).
It is a picture of the mysticism of mission.
And we have another dimension of that same mysticism in today's saint, Elizabeth Seton. I am especially impressed today with how she entered the Catholic Church at a time when prejudice was such that she knew that by following this interior call, she would not only be ostracized herself, she was even putting her children's material well-being at risk. A widow without resources, she would find it hard to get work that would provide adequately for them. All because she was a Catholic. She made her profession of faith in the Catholic Church despite this.  I suspect that there are many people today who would find fault with that.

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