Saturday, January 14, 2006

Homily for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time on John 1, 35-42 by St. Basil of Seleucia

Spurred on by the testimony of John the Baptist, the glorious apostle Andrew left his teacher and ran to the one pointed out by him. John’s words were his signal, and, moving more swiftly than John could speak, he approached the master with obvious longing, his companion, John the Evangelist, running beside him. Both had left the lamp to come to the Sun.

Andrew was the first to become an apostle. It was he who opened the gates of Christ’s teaching. He was the first to gather the fruits cultivated by the prophets, and he surpassed the hopes of all by being the first to embrace the one awaited by all. He was the first to show that the precepts of the law were in force only for a limited time. He was the first to restrain the tongue of Moses, for he would not allow it to speak after Christ had come. Yet he was not rebuked for this because he did not dishonor the teacher of the Jews, but honored more the Sender than the one sent. It fact Andrew was seen to be the first to honor Moses, because he was the first to recognize the one he foretold when he said: The Lord will raise up for you from among your kindred a prophet like myself. Listen to him. Andrew set the law aside in obedience to the law. He listened to Moses who said: Listen to him. He listened to John who cried out: Behold the Lamb of God, and of his own accord went to the one pointed out to him.

Having recognized the Prophet foretold by the prophets, Andrew led his brother to the one he had found. To Peter, who was still in ignorance, he revealed the treasure: We have found the Messiah for whom we were longing. How many sleepless nights we spent beside the waters of the Jordan, and now we have found the One for whom we longed! Nor was Peter slow when he heard these words, for he was Andrew’s brother. He listened attentively, then hastened with great eagerness.

Taking Peter with him, Andrew brought his brother to the Lord, thus making him his fellow disciple. This was Andrew’s first achievement: he increased the number of apostles by bringing Peter to Christ, so that Christ may find in him the disciples’ leader. When later on Peter won approval, it was thanks to the seed sown by Andrew. But the commendation given to the one redounded to the other, for the virtues of each belonged to both, and each was proud of the other’s merits. Indeed, when Peter promptly answered the Master’s question, how much joy he gave to all the disciples by breaking their embarrassed silence! Peter alone acted as the mouthpiece of those to whom the question was addressed. As though all spoke through him, he replied clearly on their behalf: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. In one sentence he acknowledged both the Savior and his saving plan.

Notice how these words echo Andrew’s. By prompting Peter the Father endorsed from above the words Andrew used when he led Peter to Christ. Andrew had said: We have found the Messiah. The Father said, prompting Peter: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, almost forcing these words on Peter: “Peter,” he said, “when you are questioned, use Andrew’s words in reply. Show yourself very prompt in answering your Master. Andrew did not lie to you when he said: We have found the Messiah. Turn the Hebrew words into Greek and cry out: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

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