Feast of the Apostle St. Andrew
[Scripture Readings: Rom 10:9-18, Mt 4:18-22]
If the Lord asked you to pray for something, would you not do it?
Three times in the Gospels the Lord asks us to pray for something: first in the Sermon on the Mount, second in his mission to the twelve apostles, and third in his teaching about the last days.
We know the first very well. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). Then he taught us his prayer, the Our Father. It is not difficult to pray for enemies before they inflict persecution, but when the blows begin to fall upon us hard and fast, will we have the strength to pray for those who cause us great suffering, as Jesus did on the cross, and as the apostles and martyrs did in the midst of their agonies?
The second time the Lord asks us to pray for something is in his teaching on the mission of the church in the world. Jesus said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt. 9:38). Today the need for apostolic missionaries and priests is increasing dramatically. Is it because of our lack of prayer?
The third time Jesus asks us to pray for something is in his teaching about the great tribulations of the last days. He said, “Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man” (Lk 21:36). “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (Mt 24:20). And in the Garden of Gethsemane he urged us to, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:41). Do we ask for this grace?
In St. Bernard’s sermon for the feast of St. Andrew, he writes, “Where did so frail a creature get so much constancy, so fervent a charity, and so strong a will?” For when the apostle Andrew saw the cross on which he was to be crucified, his heart expanded with such great love that he exclaimed, “O cross, long desired … I come to you full of joy and gladness, for I am a disciple of him who hung from your arms.”
St. Bernard continues, “Let us not imagine that St. Andrew got that great courage from himself. It was the Holy Spirit who came to help his weakness and filled his soul with a love stronger than death. May it please God to make us share in that Spirit!”
That is the source of the courage we need to pray for our persecutors in the midst of suffering, and the constancy we need to pray for the mission of the church, and the perseverance we need to remain faithful. Let this be our prayer every day: “Lord Jesus, may we have the strength to escape and endure all that is to come and to stand before you in joy when you appear.”
We cannot persevere by our own strength. St. Bernard writes, “What the Spirit did for Saint Andrew when he faced the cross and death, that same Spirit will also do for us … rendering it desirable and even delicious.”
So, let us pray every day, “Lord Jesus, may we have the strength to escape and endure all that is to come and to stand before you in joy when you appear.” The Lord has asked it.