November 30

St. Andrew

Fisherman and an early disciple. That's a quick read of Andrew's resume. Yet, those two facts gloss over the impact this apostle had on the Nazarene movement. According to John 1:40-42, Andrew introduced his brother Simon to Jesus. The gospel seemed to imply he would continue pass along the Good News by word of mouth (see John 6:8). He would bring his friends to meet his friend, Jesus.

First Reading: Romans 10:9-18

9 If you should confess the Lord Jesus in your mouth and (you) should belief in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For, (one) believes in (the) heart into righteousness, and (one) confesses in the mouth into salvation. 11 For the Scriptures say, "The (one) believing in him will not be shamed." 12 For there is not a difference (between) Jew and Greek, for he is Lord of all, bestowing riches upon all (those) calling upon him. 13 For everyone who should call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

14 But how can (those) call upon (the one) in whom (they) have not believed? How can (they) believe whom (they) have not heard? How can (they) hear without (the message) being announced? 15 How can (they) announce unless (they) were sent? Just as it has been written: "Beautiful are the feet of (the one) proclaiming [the] Good News." 16 But, not all obeyed the Good News. For Isaiah said, "Lord, who believed in (the act of) hearing from us?" 17 So, faith is from the hearing, but the hearing is through the word of Christ. 18 But I say, have (they) certainly not heard? No, rather

"Throughout the entire earth, their voice went out, and to the ends of the inhabited world, their words."

10:9 " If you should confess the Lord Jesus in your mouth" When would the believer "confess" Jesus as Lord? In the Roman community, two times come to mind: in worship or evangelization.

10:10 "For, (one) believes in (the) heart into righteousness" Some translate "righteousness" as "justification" in this context. When the preposition "into" was added to "righteousness," the phrase indicated results. In other words, whoever trusts God (or believes God raised Jesus from the dead; see 10:9) will be made righteous by God. Paul held the faith relationship was key to understanding justification.

10:11 "The (one) believing in him will not be shamed." This verse was from Isaiah 20:16. It referred to the establishment of Jerusalem by God. As a city housing the Temple, Jerusalem was a cornerstone of the religious piety and patriotism. Many of the faithful at the time believed that, as God was eternal, his city would stand the tests of time.

Paul took the subject out of context (i.e, Jerusalem) but not the basis for belief (dependence on God in worship). For Paul, the subject was now the faithful.

10:13 "For everyone who should call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." This verse was from Joel 2:32. Like Isaiah 20:16, this referred to the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem.

10:15 "Beautiful are the feet of the one proclaiming the Good News." This is a Semitic proverb that praised the means by which the Good News was delivered, by foot. It mimics Isaiah 52:7.

10:16b "For Isaiah said, 'Lord, who believed in (the act of) hearing from us?' This is a variation on Isaiah 53:1.

10:18a "... have (they) certainly not heard?" The words "certainly not" are actually a double negative which added emphasis to Paul's rhetorical question.

10:18b "Throughout the entire earth, their voice went out, and to the ends of the inhabited world, their words." This is a variation on Psalm 19:2. The "they" in the quote referred to the missionaries. Many people had heard about the Christians by the time the churches arose in their communities, simply because the Jews were so scattered across the Empire, and, so, omnipresent to those pagan communities.

In his off-quoted remarks on justification in Romans, Paul seemed to reject the duty of the Law for the freedom of faith. In a dualistic context of inner experience vs. outer activity, Paul seemed to argue that the inner relationship saved, not religious behaviors. A first glance, this insight made sense. However, we need to further investigate the relationship between spirit and the physical world, between intent and duty.

Paul was a Jew and had a Jewish worldview. Most Jews at the time would stress the unity of the human. The person was a single entity. Body and soul were two different aspects of that entity.

Much of Paul's audience was Greek. The Greek culture was dualistic in outlook. The spirit and matter were separate realms. The human person inhabited both realms. But the Greeks held the identity of the person was spiritual in nature.

To Greeks, the opinion of Paul on justification would make metaphysical sense. The assent of the spirit mattered, not religious behaviors. These behaviors were acted out in the physical world which was imperfect. Activity in a plane of material would also be imperfect, hence inferior to the perfection to be obtained on the spiritual level. Trust in God would make one perfect (in a right relationship with the Father). Such perfection would bring contemplative bless and spiritual insight.

But, Paul was not so concerned with the metaphysical as with the practical question of universal salvation. How can non-Jews (i.e., "Greeks" in 10:12) be saved by God? Paul rejected simple duty to the Law, for he himself had experience a relationship with God in Christ Jesus. Such a relationship stood outside the Law. For Paul, the duty of the Law was replaced by the duty of faith in Jesus. There were two components to faith, internal ascent and "confession of the lips." In other words, Paul maintained the person made the faith commitment with the two aspects: intent and public declaration (whether informally among friends or in the liturgical context of the worship community).

Paul then shifted his focus to the salvation of those outside the community. How were they to be saved? What was their responsibility in salvation? In a set of rhetorical questions, Paul worked backwards from effect to cause: prayer to faith, faith to hearing the message, hearing the message to the proclamation of the Good News, proclamation of the Good News to the commission of the apostle (10:14-15a). In other words, the desired result of missionary's efforts is a prayer relationship with God. The root (and blessing) of this process lay with the apostle (10:15b). Here, Paul made an assumption here, and not an unreasonable one. Some rejected the Good News, but, according to Paul, they certainly heard the message. Why assert the universality of the Good News? As the note above mentioned, the Jewish Diaspora was so widespread, it was difficult to enter an urban center in the Roman Empire that did not have a Jewish population. For good or ill, this community spread the news of Jesus through gossip. If the Jews were abuzz with the news of the Nazorene's followers, the Greek communities in the East would know about them. Hence, "...throughout the entire earth, their voice went out, and to the ends of the inhabited world, their words (10:18b)." This conversation that had spilled from Jewish circles into the wider community prepared the way for the apostle. Paul implied this was part of God's will (consider the number of Bible verses he quoted in this section); the "word" of Christ will spread due to human effort, backed by divine design.

There has always been a tension in Christian spirituality between contemplation and social outreach, between the growth in the inner life and duty to others in the public realm. This tension can be expressed in a question: Where do we see Christ? In the self? Or, in others? St. Anthony, the father of monasticism, focused on the former, Mother Theresa of Calcutta on the later. Obviously, there is a continuum between intent and behavior, between insight and duty. Most Christians move from pole to the other throughout life. Paul argued for a balance between the two.

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Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22

18 Walking along (the shore of) the Sea of Galilee, HE saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea. For they were fishermen. 19 HE said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men!" 20 Leaving their nets, they immediately followed him. 21 Going on from there, HE saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John, in the boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets. And HE called them. 22 Immediately leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

4:19 "Come after me..." This was not an invitation to companionship, but a call to discipleship. According to Matthew, Jesus molded his ministry by preaching (especially in the synagogues) [4:17, 23], calling disciples to follow him [4:18-22], and healing [4:23]. Jesus preached exclusively to the Jews in Galilee, a culturally mixed area (unlike Judea which had a almost totally Jewish culture). Although he adopted John's message of repentance, he shifted its focal point. The Kingdom was no longer a coming event. It was at hand. And the subject of the message was missing. Jesus did not preach about a coming Messiah. [4:17]

Jesus' initial message created a tension that still survives to this day. Theologians speak of God's Kingdom as "Here,... but not yet." The Kingdom is present, but not fully realized. God reigns in the world because Christ is present in and through his Church. Until the Second Coming, however, the Kingdom, like Christ himself, remains hidden.

As Jesus traveled around Galilee, he actively built a following. [4:18-23] Biblical scholars speculate Galileans would network and form groups around social, economic, or religious issues. Even though the Romans put down revolts with brutal efficiency, large Jewish protests did sway official decisions, especially at the local level. There was strength in numbers. Part-time fishermen (like Peter and Andrew, like James and John) would easily take leave of their daily tasks, if the group they joined promised to protect and enhance their way of life. Proclaiming the immanence of the Kingdom (a message with political undertones for Jews), Jesus quickly amassed an audience.

Jesus called Andrew and Andrew followed. Andrew introduced others to Jesus. The call and the invitation. These are the key components to an effective evangelization. Jesus calls us not only to him, he calls us to extend his friendship to others, just like Andrew. How have you invited your friends to meet Jesus?