Be Useful for God so that He May Do Great Things
Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Homily given by Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA on the Feast of St. Andrew (11/30/07) at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Hanceville, AL) – 7am.
Information about St. Andrew whose feast we celebrate today is very limited. Some of the facts that we know about him is that he is Peter’s brother. Like most of the Apostles, he was martyred; in fact he was crucified like Jesus. But, he felt unworthy, like his brother Peter, to be crucified exactly like Jesus. So he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus; in his case, it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross; and it was from there the X-shaped cross has come to be known as “St. Andrew’s cross” (cf. Gen. Audience of Pope Benedict XVI – 6/14/06).
And Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospels, tells us a little bit more about St. Andrew. In the beginning of his gospel, St. John tells us that he was a disciple of John the Baptist. After John revealed the truth about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, he left John the Baptist and followed Jesus, the Messiah. Andrew is known as the first among those who found the Messiah. Pope Benedict XVI called him “the Protoclete” in one of his general audiences. And this is derived from the liturgy of the Byzantine Church. They honor him with the nickname “Protokletos” (or Protoclete) which means, precisely, “the first called.” After he found the Messiah, he could not keep it to himself. He had to introduce it to his brother Peter. And the Church uses this verse from John’s Gospel for today’s Communion Antiphon: Andrew told his brother Simon: we have found the Messiah, the Christ; and he brought him to Jesus (Jn.1:41-42).
John also tells us about Andrew in two other places in his gospel. In chapter 12, he describes Andrew as the one bringing the Greeks to Christ, the Messiah. The Greeks came up to Jerusalem to worship. And they desire to see Christ. First, the Greeks went to Philip. Even though Philip is an Apostle himself and instead of taking them to Jesus directly, he took them to Andrew first; and then he and Andrew took them to Jesus.
And another reference of St. Andrew in the Scripture is in John’s gospel chapter 6, the miracle of the loaves and the fish. Here, both Philip and Andrew were mentioned together. As we recall the story, many people were following Jesus and may have not eaten yet and were hungry. Jesus wanted to feed the 5,000; so he tested Philip by asking: How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat? Philip’s response after doing a quick multiplication formula on his head was: Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little. Then Andrew said to Jesus: There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish.
Cardinal Newman mentioned that three times St. Andrew is described as the one who introduces others to Jesus Christ, the Messiah! Yet, we and history know very little of him. He doesn’t even have any of his writings that we can read as part of the canon in Scripture. His brother Peter, on the other hand, seems to be given quite a place of rank and high dignity as the Prince of the Apostles.
The lesson of our meditation on St. Andrew’s life is that God often uses His servants in a hidden way that the world may know nothing about in history. Though in a hidden way, He always accomplishes great things. It’s not important that the world know what we do or what we accomplish! It’s not important that others know what we do or how much efforts we put on doing certain things or striving to be holy! What is important is that God knows our efforts! What is important is that God knows what we do or what we accomplish or what we strive to be! History knows certain individuals who make great changes in the world or contribute something special to make our world to be better; yet, how little, almost none, do we know about the people who form these individuals or who teach these individuals.
Through Andrew, God established His Church on earth upon Peter the Rock. Through Ananias, whom we know very little about, God gave the gifts of pardon and healing and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles. Through Mother Teresa’s Mom whom the world know almost nothing about who used to bring her daughter to visit the poor, God manifested His love to the poorest of the poor through Mother Teresa and all her sisters. What about all the Doctors of the Church, all the Martyrs, all the Saints in Heaven? Who taught them Jesus Christ? Who preached to them? Who “introduced” them to the Messiah? Through the parents, the teachers, the pastors, the confessors, the spiritual directors of the Saints and Doctors of the Church, God formed these men and women to be great Saints and Doctors of the Church. Yet, we know nothing or very little about those responsible of introducing them to Christ! Don’t be discouraged if you think you’ve done only little things for the Lord! Don’t be discouraged if no one recognizes your hard work or your effort! The Lord knows all things! As long as we try to be generous to God’s grace in saying our little yes's, He can accomplish great events in history. As long as we try to cooperate with God’s grace, He can accomplish great miracles in the world. Our duty is to try to be useful for God whether in praying or whether in suffering or whether in “introducing” others to Christ like St. Andrew, so He can continue His miracles and great works on earth.