|The Feast of Andrew, Apostle
Their message goes out through all the earth. Psalm 19
I love reflecting on Andrew. It's not just because I was named after my grandfather, who was born on this day. I think it has to do with his being the brother of Peter, the way he is portrayed in the gospels, and how he died.
This morning I'm moved to reflect on his "responsiveness" to Jesus. I'm imaging that scene by the sea when a fairly young Peter and Andrew look up from their nets to see Jesus. Was it something about his face, that freed them to respond so readily? Or was it something that Jesus saw in them?
The mystery of what draws any of us to greater generosity, greater availability to love, is all about how grace works. I suspect that Jesus sensed something going on inside of these two dedicated fishermen. He must have read in their conversation, their interaction, their 'spirits' a readiness to respond. That's exactly the way I experience God's call in my life. By the time I hear a "come follow me" type of invitation, there has already been a complex series of things going on in me that are graces opening me to more graces.
What opens us most often to hear invitation? I think, if we all would reflect upon our experience, it is some experience of failure or powerlessness, some experience of being brought low. The events, wounds, sinfulness that leave us raw, exposed or numb are the graces that prepare us for invitation. The redemptive love of God works best in weakness. And, why should this preparation require such turmoil? It think it fits my experience to say that most of the time we are so bound and determined to be successful, look good, to 'survive at all costs' that we aren't disposed to see and invitation in the midst of struggle.
I suspect Jesus saw some deep struggle, some restlessness or lack of peace in the spirits of Peter and Andrew. And, I suspect that when they looked up they saw love in the face of Jesus. It is love that frees us. It is love that calms anxiety. It is love that lights a fire within our hearts. Love always contains an invitation to respond. And, heroic love inspires heroic response.
Responding to the healing, loving gaze of Jesus, Peter and Andrew left their nets to follow him. They got to know his heart, his passions, and they fell in love with him. And through the fire of the Holy Spirit, they were enflamed by his dying-to-self love. It was inevitable that they would both give themselves completely to share the good news of that love "through all the earth."
I imagine Andrew, strapped to his X-shaped cross, remembering that first loving look at Jesus, and being comforted. I imagine Jesus saying to him, "Well done, Andrew. Now come follow me into the glory my Father has prepared for us."
Oh, Jesus, love us all in the midst of whatever struggle we are experiencing.
Free us, heal us, re-ignite the spirit within us to be more free and generous
in loving others. And, as you invite us to take up our crosses, please
comfort us with your loving gaze.
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