Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- November 30
Apostle and Patron of Scotland and Russia
(entered heaven sometime in the first century)
I can understand why you feel so "uncomfortable" sharing your faith with your fraternity brothers. After all, standing up for things like Christian chastity, justice, and kindness is not exactly a formula for popularity among college rowdies. Nevertheless, as long as you enthusiastically join the other guys in their normal, healthy pursuits (sports, meals, studies, etc.) without taking on an air of "holier-than-thou" aloofness, you have nothing to fear in being quite open about your faith and the direction it gives to your life. In this sense, feel free to follow the marvelous example of your namesake (whose feast is celebrated today, by the way – don't forget to do something special).
Although we don't know much about St Andrew, what we do know is quite significant. He and John the Evangelist were Jesus' first disciples. They spent the afternoon with him on that fateful day when Jesus made his appearance near the river where John the Baptizer was splashing and plunging. That afternoon changed their lives. They knew immediately that Jesus was no ordinary Rabbi, and the very next day they returned to him, and they began following him. The interesting thing, though, is that they didn't return alone. After meeting Jesus, Andrew went back and told his brother about him, and brought him along to meet the Lord (his brother happened to be Peter). And that's the key lesson. Do you think Andrew already knew everything about Christ and his plans for the Church and for eternal salvation when he invited his brother to come along? Do you think he had "proof positive" that Jesus was the Messiah, was holier than John the Baptizer, was worthy of their loyalty and obedience? Certainly he did not. And yet, even so, he told Peter all about the Lord, and convinced him to come and see for himself.
It is a paradigm of Christian discipleship: whenever we have an authentic experience of Jesus Christ, we immediately feel a need to share that experience. The Medievalists attributed this phenomenon to a philosophical principle: "Bonum difusivum est" – goodness tends to spread itself out. Therefore, my beloved nephew, let go of all self-consciousness and "pressure"; simply and naturally build your friendships with your buddies and whenever the occasion arises, freely share with them what you have freely received: a lively and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, the Savior.
[Of course, after Christ's resurrection and ascension, it was Peter who led the other Apostles in the spread of the Church. At that point, history loses track of St Andrew, although most sources indicate that his missionary activity took him to Greece, where he was crucified on a cross shaped like an "X." Other legends say he preached in Russia, but that is highly unlikely. Still others tell of a heavenly vision that inspired one missionary to transfer some of his relics to Scotland. In any case, his body is now interred in the Cathedral of Amalfi, near Naples, Italy. Lovely town, Amalfi, right on the Mediterranean Sea. If you ever get a chance to go there, take it – you'll have no regrets.
Your loving uncle, Eddy
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