I lead a weekly Eucharist on Thursdays at St. Margaret’s. The service is a short, spoken service, and my homilies are brief reflections on the saint or feast appointed for the day. I do not usually write out these homilies, but instead outline my thoughts. Last week a parishioner felt like it was a “waste of gems,” for me not to publish them on the blog too. So, she is helping me type up my outlines, and I will try to start posting them here. They are obviously less formulated than my sermons and will read a bit like an outline, but perhaps they will feed your spiritual journey. Enjoy this first installment from the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?
When we lament the shrinking church, we often forget one or more of these four steps. In reverse order, the steps are a little clearer: People have to be sent in order to proclaim; Others cannot hear without proclamation; If others don’t hear, they can’t believe; and unless they believe, they cannot call on God. Sending. Proclaiming. Belief. Relationship with God.
Some of us stop at sending. Church sends us out every Sunday, but we quickly move on to the next thing. Some of us stop at proclaiming – we might invite others to church, but proclaiming sounds way too scary. Others stop at belief. We might be able to talk about our faith, but we can’t imagine being responsible for someone else’s belief. Finally, we might convince someone to believe, but we can’t force them to have a relationship with God.
Today we celebrate Andrew the Apostle. Andrew had every reason to avoid these steps, too. Often he is simply known as Peter’s brother. Andrew is not a part of the inner circle, which included Peter, James, and John. Andrew could easily have left the work of going, proclaiming, and creating disciples to the others, just keeping his faith to himself.
What Andrew shows us is that everyone can be a disciple and evangelist. We simply need:
- A willingness to respond. Matthew says Andrew immediately leaves his nets and follows Jesus when he calls;
- A willingness to hear. John says that Andrew had been John the Baptist’s disciple, and when John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus the Lamb of God, Andrew switched camps;
- A willingness to share the Good News. John says Andrew’s first act after following Jesus is to go get his brother and bring him to Jesus.
Andrew is just a regular guy doing the work of proclamation!
Andrew teaches us today that we can all be evangelists. Now I know how we hate that word and even the concept of evangelism, but Andrew makes it simple. Go into the world, proclaim (tell your God story), encourage belief (you believe – it must be important enough to share), and foster a relationship with God (don’t stop talking – all your life is a witness to others that can foster others’ relationships with Christ).
Being an evangelist is all of this work, and the work really isn’t all that scary. As Paul says, “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.”