A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
“As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.”
Today is the Feast of St. Andrew, known as the brother of St. Peter and the first apostle called by Jesus. He traveled many places preaching the Gospel after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. Eventually under Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians, tradition says he was arrested and executed by hanging on an X-shaped cross in the city of Patras in Greece. He was tied to the cross, not nailed, because he did not feel worthy enough to die exactly like Jesus. There he preached from the cross until he died two days later. Today, some of his first-class relics and the cross he died on have made their way back to St. Andrew’s place of execution, Patras in Greece. The Basilica of St. Andrew, a Greek Orthodox church that seats seven thousand, houses St. Andrew’s relics. His humble beginnings lead to greatness, giving God glory.
“They were fishermen” and caught fish by throwing their nets overboard. Today most people are not commercial fishermen like Simon and Andrew, but fish for themselves with a hook and bait.
I recently attended a family function where my great-nephew tried to catch a bass swimming under a bridge that spanned the bayou. He was having no luck in catching that bass which he could clearly see under the water surface. Being a passionate fisherman, he was not giving up easily. He changed the artificial lure to a piece of fried fish that was on the serving line of the family reception. What a surprise to everyone at the function when he caught that fish! My nephew had one thing on his mind to accomplish. He was persistent, patient, and he gave the fish a bait he wanted to eat.
Jesus sought out the apostles and made them fishers of men by giving them what was needed, the Word. With this powerful gift, the disciples had the right bait to bring others to Christ. St. Andrew and Jesus’ other followers purposefully held fast to a conviction to spread the Word until their martyrdom. When Jesus seeks you out, may you have the same willingness to serve and be his disciple. Your humble beginnings can lead you to follow something great.