The Commemoration of Apostle Andrew the First-Called

Photo: Photo: Today the holy Church marks the memory of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The name Andrew means “manly”, and the holy Apostle Andrew fully justified his name.

When he came to his majority, he left his wealthy parental home and entered the ranks of disciples of St. John the Baptist.

Many Israelites who were awaiting the Messiah imagined Him as a hero who would free their people from the foreign yoke and create an invincible Judean kingdom. This is the sense in which they expected testimony from John the Baptist about the Messiah. But to their dismay, John called them to the baptism of repentance, to the labor of humility, to the purification of the heart, foreshowing by this that the coming Messiah is not a national hero but the Redeemer, the spiritual renewer of mankind, Who opens to mankind the path to joy and the unity of all in God, which they had lost.

And so, when Andrew, alien to the letter-of-the-law, Pharisaical leaven, heard the words of the Forerunner: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”, he immediately went and followed Jesus, called Him Teacher, and spent a whole day with Him. Thus Andrew, the son of the fisherman Jonah, became the first disciple of the Son of God. He drew along with him his brother Simon, to whom Jesus gave the name, Cephas-Peter.

But this was not yet the final calling of Andrew and Peter. After the first meeting with Christ, they returned to their native village, and contemplating the Divine Teacher, went to fish with their father on the Sea of Galilee. After His forty days in the desert and the temptations from the devil, Christ passed along the seashore, teaching the people and healing the sick. On one of those days He again saw Simon-Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the sea, and said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Simon-Peter and Andrew put away their nets without a second thought, and accepted the call to apostolic service throughout the world.

Always concentrated, introspective, decisive, and brave, Andrew comes up in the Gospels at especially important and crucial instances.

The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified… If any man serve me, let him follow me (Jn. 12:23, 26). Hearing these words, Andrew knew that he would unwaveringly follow the Divine Teacher—in both His crucifixion and spreading of the Gospel. And His commandment once ascended: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (Matt. 19–20), inspired Apostle Andrew to take the Good News of the Crucified and Resurrected One to those nations that could least of all hope for those bearing this news to come to them.

Apostle Andrew visited Ephesus, accompanied the Ever-Virgin Mary to Mt. Athos, preached in Asia Minor, in the Greek regions of the Roman Empire, in the Scythian towns of the Caucasus Mountains, in Georgia, and Cherson. He visited the vast expanses of Great Scythia—modern southern Russia—to the heights of Kiev, where he erected a Holy and Life-Giving Cross, saying to his fellow travelers, “On these hills the grace of God will shine,” and then reached northern Russia, where wondrous Valaam is located. Thus was the Russian land illumined by the light of Christ through Apostle Andrew, who was a witness to the whole earthly life of our Savior, His sufferings on Golgotha for the human race, and His resurrection. The Church of Christ in Rus’ takes its beginnings from Apostle Andrew.

Apostle Andrew ended his much-laboring earthly life as a martyr. Gazing at the cross (in the form of the letter X) and condemned to crucifixion, Apostle Andrew proclaimed, “Rejoice O Cross, sanctified by the flesh of Christ… Before, you were terrible for people, now you are beloved and eagerly received… Therefore do I go to you with joy… Take me away from people and give me to my Teacher, that through you, I might be received by Him Who redeemed me through you.”

“Obedience is better than sacrifice”, said the Old Testament prophets. And our Lord Jesus Christ illumined by His life the labor of obedience, for, “He was obedient unto death on the Cross”. The image of such obedience to God is given to us and to Russia by Apostle Andrew the First-Called, the guardian of the suffering Russian Church, and protector of our people.

To him and to the New Martyrs do we run in prayer with the fervent, heartfelt plea: May God in His Providence resurrect Orthodox Rus’, and through the resurrection of Christ renew in our own hearts and in the hearts of that entire suffering people Christ the Savior, to Whom St. Andrew the First-Called first brought our distant ancestors. Amen.

Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky)
Translation by


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