The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle falls on November 30th. It is fitting that St. Andrew’s Day would usher in the days of Advent expectation and waiting for Christ, because Andrew was always leading people to Christ and pointing the way to Christ. In John’s gospel (chapter 1), it is Andrew who tells his brother, Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah.”
Receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.
Later in John’s gospel (chapter 12), we read of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. John tells us “there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast.” They want to see Jesus. It is Andrew and Philip who go to tell Jesus that these people are looking for him.
Andrew, who is the first apostle to answer Jesus’ call, spends the rest of his life leading men and women to the Messiah. He spends the rest of his life helping those who want to see Jesus.
So beloved is this apostle that many countries claim him. Tradition holds that he was martyred in Patras, in Greece, crucified on an X-shaped (“saltire”) cross. This is the story as it has been handed down: The judge who heard the charges against Andrew urged him to make sacrifice to the local gods, and so, save his life. Andrew is said to have replied,
“I sacrifice daily to almighty God, the one and true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats do I offer, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living.”
Andrew’s life would not be spared. As he approached the cross on which he died, Andrew is said to have cried,
“O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you.”
So Greece claims Andrew as its patron. So do Scotland and Russia. Scotland’s flag bears an image of the saltire cross, and it is the custom there to wear a thistle flower on November 30 in honor of St. Andrew.
Mark’s gospel (chapter 1) tells us that Andrew was a fisherman. It was to Andrew and Simon Peter that Jesus called, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” So it seems fitting to day to make fish the theme of the meal. If you do not eat fish, consider using Swedish fish candy to decorate a cake or pudding or making a simple gelatin dessert in a fish-shaped mold.
If there are small children in your household, you might set up a dry wading pool in the kitchen or dining room. Cut fish shapes out of colored construction paper and write on each one a Christian virtue or practice members of the family need to learn, or learn better. Have each child, and then adult, make a net of his or her hands and take turns scooping up a catch. (If there are children who can read, let them read the words on the fish to the younger ones.) The children can tape the fish in their rooms to be reminded of what it means to find the Messiah. Adults may want to place their fish on a nightstand or on a car dashboard to be reminded, as well.
– Melissa Musick