Look at the Example of St. Andrew and Walk Others Toward Christ

Father James Wilcox

Director of Vocations

North Texas Catholic

12/21/2016

Recently, I had the joy of accompanying five of the men in the permanent deacon formation program and their wives on a pilgrimage through Italy ending in Rome. 

These pilgrim days were filled with the complete elements of a true spiritual pilgrimage: prayer, travel, walking, daily Mass at holy sites, reflection, and community. As with most pilgrimages, it was also filled with unexpected surprises, one of which was a reminder about how we have a responsibility to lead others to a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

During the pilgrimage, we visited Florence, a bustling city in the Tuscan area of Italy. As can happen, the busy nature of this vibrant city along with the grandeur of the cathedral and the preparations necessary for celebrating the Mass all combined to misalign the spiritual focus of the pilgrim journey. However, the Lord is generous with those who seek Him, and the blessing He bestowed was tremendous.

Following our tour guide, I entered the sacristy and was met with great kindness by a sacristan. The sacristan asked me to follow him to the side altar where the items were prepared for Mass. Upon arrival at the altar, he showed me the readings and the Missal and the vessels for Mass. Everything was in place. We were getting ready to head back to the sacristy when he said, “Oh yes, and Father, there are several relics here in the altar.” I turned and behind a window on the front of the altar there were several relics on display. The sacristan pointed out the skull of St. John Chrysostom. A vessel next to that contained the forearm (the bones were visible) of St. Andrew. 

Before I had time to respond to the overwhelming reality of these relics, the sacristan pointed to a case behind the presider’s chair that contained a large silver cross. Inside the silver cross, he pointed out, is a large piece of wood — a relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ.  

St. Andrew the Apostle (Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com)

The enormity of the sacred objects was not lost on the pilgrims. Second only to the holy wood of the Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was the forearm of that understated apostle, St. Andrew.

Remember that it was St. Andrew who recognized the Lord and brought his brother, Peter, to meet Jesus Christ.  
Read John 1:40-42, and it is easy to visualize Andrew walking with Peter to see Jesus, and then with hand and forearm at Peter’s back, Andrew moving Peter toward Christ. He literally led his brother to Jesus Christ. For this reason, we call our discernment events for men the “St. Andrew Breakfast” or the “St. Andrew Dinner.” We are seeking to lead them to that intimate relationship with Christ and to help them seek and do his will.

The journey to Jesus Christ and to doing his will is not an individual, isolated act. The Church is a community of believers, and we are together on the spiritual journey. Throughout the Holy Gospels, we are shown how Jesus Christ time and again makes his presence known to us on the journey, most importantly after his resurrection. It was on the way to Emmaus, that “Jesus Himself drew near and walked” with two of the disciples (Luke 24:13-15, 27,30-32).

St. Bonaventure, commenting on the journey to Emmaus, notes three points relative to Christ’s presence: the harmonious journey of the disciples; their conversation along the way; and the disciple’s proper reception of and association with Christ.

Bonaventure also points out the significance that there were two on the journey. When there is more than one person on the journey, they can support each other. During their journey the disciples also received and connected with Christ although they did not recognize who He was. They talked to Him, and He began to reveal things to them.

On my pilgrim journey through Italy, I knew we loved Jesus Christ and were in his presence throughout.  However, the Lord was generous in making Himself known to us in a dramatic way at that Mass in the Cathedral of Florence. It was an intense reminder of his love and of our responsibility to be with others on the journey, especially those seeking to serve his Church in the line of the apostles.

As we continue our journey together, let us look at the example of St. Andrew and see who we can walk alongside with and gently move closer to answering the call of Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for vocations to priesthood, religious life, and the permanent diaconate. St. Andrew, pray for us.

 

 

Recently, I had the joy of accompanying five of the men in the permanent deacon formation program and their wives on a pilgrimage through Italy ending in Rome. 

Published (until 12/12/2039)
Back