St Andrew, Apostle

Romans 10.9-18; Psalm 19.8-11 (18 LXX); Matthew 4.18-22

I admit that the first thing that struck me about the Mass readings was that the selection from Psalm 19 doesn’t include the verse Paul quotes in the passage from Romans 10. I puzzled over it a bit, especially because the readings attest beautifully (if you read the whole Psalm) to the inclusiveness of the good news Jesus brings: the word goes out to all the earth, and all those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (I never did come to any conclusion about why those particular verses from the psalm are included in today’s reading.)

I wonder whether there isn’t something about the nets Peter and Andrew left behind that attests to the unimaginable breadth and depth of God’s loving will, God’s intention to save us. Usually, when I think about this story, I focus on the shift from catching fish to catching people. But looking at it in the context of the psalm and the reading from Romans, I find my attention drawn to the tools of the trade. In their new occupation, Andrew and Peter have to learn to cast a different kind of net, the gospel message Paul describes in Romans 10. And that net reaches to the ends of the earth.
But that’s not the only thing about the gospel reading that changes for me as I look at it from a different angle: reading it on St Andrew’s day reminds me how prone I am to seeing the task of being a ‘fisher of people’ as a task for St Peter and St Paul. Theirs is the place in the spotlight, theirs the gifts of preaching and leading others to faith in Christ. Teaching in a theological college, I find myself surrounded by those possessed of just such gifts, and many who are in the process of developing them–and I am quite happy to stay behind the lectern. In Matthew’s gospel, though, Jesus isn’t just talking to Peter. He’s talking to Andrew as well. It isn’t just the good news of salvation that reaches the ends of the earth: the call to be disciples after the example of Jesus’ first disciples is for all Christians.
And why not? After all, the shepherds themselves teach us that the news of Jesus’ coming is not to be kept quiet: ‘they made known’ what they had heard. I tend to think of discipleship primarily as following, but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, I might be missing a crucial element, if I fail to point to the master, and invite others to come and see.

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