This morning, the Gospel reading contained in the Breviarium Monasticum comes from St. Matthew’s account. He describes how Our Lord was walking near the Sea of Galilee and saw Sts. Peter and Andrew casting their nets in the sea. He told them to follow Him and they did leaving everything behind. The same thing happened with James and John who left their elderly father, Zebedee, in the boat with their nets. Such was the call of the first four Apostles.
St. Andrew, of course, went on to become one of the great missionaries in the Church. He traveled throughout Greece, the perimeter of the Black Sea, and made it to Scythia (modern Ukraine and Russia) before he went back to Greece. At Patras, he suffered martyrdom for the faith on an X-shaped cross on which he hung for two days. During those two days, he was constantly preaching and only then, feeling that his work was completed, did he offer his soul into the hands of Our Lord.
Interestingly enough, one of the regions St. Andrew evangelized was Bulgaria. Granted, Bulgaria as a country did not exist in the early first century. It was known as Thrace and was actually divided by the Romans into two different provinces: Thrace (southern Bulgaria) and Moesia (northern Bulgaria). Therefore, St. Andrew can rightfully be seen as the one who implanted the faith there. It would be eight hundred years, however, before that area was fully evangelized by St. Boris Michael.
All of these facts aside, the important thing about St. Andrew is that he dropped everything to follow Our Lord. He did not ask questions, make excuses, or put the call off. He left everything and followed with an unquestioning faith that what he was doing was right.
If we think about it, all of us have heard Our Lord’s call at some point in our lives. Perhaps, it came to us through the example of a favorite teacher at school. A nun or priest that was so renowned for their sanctity of life that we wanted to imitate him or her. There are countless vocation stories of nuns and priests who heard that call through the example of someone they knew even if it wasn’t one of their favorite teachers.
The call can also come in other ways as well. There are those who hear an interior voice calling them to a life of holiness. Indeed, that voice just keeps calling until they can no longer shut it off. These people acknowledge the call and begin the discernment process. After that, it is only a matter of time before they find out what God wants them to do and where they ought to go.
Yet no matter how the call is heard, it must be answered. Our Lord made it clear in the Parable of the Talents that each of us is responsible for using the gifts that we are given by Him. We have an obligation from Him to multiply those gifts and to use them. How we use them depends on many things, but the most important thing is that state in life because that determines what we do with them.
Speaking only for myself, I know that God has granted me an intellect and vast stores of knowledge, an ardent love, a big heart, and a way with words. All of these are wonderful gifts. I use them all the time. However, I’m still in the process of finding out where I am supposed to go.
I know that God is calling me to a brother, but what Order am I supposed to go to? I love the Benedictines a great deal, but the Dominicans have also been on my mind. Is it possible that God can call a person to two places at the same time? I don’t know, but I’m praying for light and hoping that God will make His will known to me at some point in the future.
Indeed, that is something that all of us need to do. We need to pray for light and guidance of the Holy Ghost so that we know where we are going and what we ought to do with our lives. Sometimes, it takes God years before He gives us a definitive answer. St. Gregory Palamas, one of the great Orthodox theologians, spent years in a cave praying for God’s guidance before he knew what he was supposed to do. It can be the same way with us.
Yet no matter what the answer ultimately is, we should follow up on it generously. After all, St. Andrew did not hold anything back from Our Lord when he received the call. Everything was left by the seashore. The same thing happened when St. Francis dumped his clothes in front of his father. All of his worldly possessions became as nothing. So it is with us. Whenever God calls, we must leave everything behind and follow Him.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Andrew, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!