Franciscan Spirit Blog

Dinnertime with St. Andrew, Fisher of Men

Like his father before him and his grandfather before that, Andrew spent his days in and around the Sea of Galilee. By the time Andrew turned six, he probably climbed over every inch of the 26-foot cedar and oak boat his dad sailed. At an age when most children today start kindergarten, Andrew would have already begun to learn the family trade: fishing.

I can picture little Andrew at dawn on his first day of work, sitting with his dad eating a breakfast of bread and figs. Wide-eyed, Andrew is listening to his dad talk about what the day would hold and what will be expected of him. I can even see the two walking hand in hand down to the sea and Andrew carrying empty baskets to the boat to hold their daily catch. How excited little Andrew must have been and how he must have anticipated the moment he actually got to sail out with his dad and the other men.

His jobs were simple this first day on the boat. He observed, stayed out of the way and helped put the fish into the basket. By the time the young boy grew into a strong man, he had worked every job on the boat and by the sea, and he was no longer an apprentice—he was a master fisherman. He could follow the smell of the salty fish drying out in the hot, breezy Judean air and begin the daily negotiations to sell his catch. His defined muscles could easily manage the huge nets as he cast them out into the sea. Andrew was a fisherman through and through.

Andrew fell into a daily routine. He and his brother Peter, along with James and John, worked together day in and day out to catch the fish that provided their living. One day Andrew met John the Baptist. He listened to John’s message, and he recognized that John was an inspired prophet. Another time as Andrew stood with John, Jesus walked by and John exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).

Immediately, Andrew followed Jesus and spent the day listening to him. Andrew went back to his brother Simon Peter and announced, “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41). Andrew needed no miracle to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, and in an instant he willingly left the only life he ever knew and loved so dearly to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.                  

Throughout Jesus’ ministry Andrew was there as one of Christ’s trusted companions and witnesses to many inspired miracles. While Andrew himself did not need Jesus to perform a miracle to convince him, Andrew recognized the power of Christ’s miracles and their effects on Jesus’ followers. Specifically, Andrew is mentioned in the story of the feeding of five thousand. It was Passover and the custom for the Jews to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the great feast. Thousands of pilgrims were traveling for the celebration.

Many of the people had heard of Jesus and his many miracles, and they wanted to be near him. So it happened that an enormous crowd gathered around Jesus and his apostles. Phillip remarked that “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little” (John 6:7). Then Andrew observed “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” (John 6:9). Jesus instructed the apostles to seat the crowd while he gave thanks for the bread and then distributed the five loaves of bread among the five thousand people with much left to spare. This was a sign for many that Jesus was a prophet among prophets. 

Andrew traveled on with Jesus providing companionship while learning and living the values Jesus preached. I wonder if Andrew realized he was beginning a new apprenticeship? How difficult it must have been for Andrew, after leaving all he had ever known and taking up and following a new trade, when his master tradesmen, his friend and confidant, was crucified. How difficult it must have been for Andrew to watch his friend and mentor die such an agonizing death. After the crucifixion Andrew must have felt empty and lost.

Even though Jesus had told the apostles he would rise on the third day, they couldn’t have possibly thought he would come back to life. It was on the road to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to the apostles that they recognized for certain that Jesus was not just a prophet, but the true Messiah.

That had to have been the moment when Andrew realized he could not go back to his old life of fishing, but needed to spread the message Jesus preached. All of the patience and persistence Andrew learned while fishing on the Sea of Galilee prepared him for his calling. Andrew set forth as did the other apostles and began preaching the Word of the Lord.              

Eventually, his travels brought him to the seaport town of Patras, Greece, where he became bishop, but he ultimately fell out of favor with the governor and was sentenced to death on a cross. His cross, however, was shaped like an X, and he was tied to it with ropes to prolong his suffering. After a long two days his agony ended, and he was r united with Christ. 


Every time I hear the story of Andrew dropping his nets and following Jesus, I wonder, “How did he know it was Jesus?” I am sure I have become too cynical in my years, but if Jesus came to me today I wonder if I would recognize him? I have seen so many fallen preachers in the news that I am afraid to admit that I would most likely simply file Jesus in the same category without really giving him a chance.

I have asked some of my friends this question, and they believe Andrew could feel the presence of Jesus. They believe if Jesus came back today and they were in his presence, it would be obvious who he was. Just like when he rose from the dead. He looked different on the outside, but as soon as he spoke the apostles knew they were in Jesus’ presence. I am impressed by Andrew’s courage to leave everything he knew to follow Jesus. I think there are times in our lives when we receive personal invitations from God, but we choose not to follow.         

One of my college roommates was always a caring person. Her personality was a wonderful mix of humor, thoughtfulness and empathy. She was a perfect fit for a career in nursing. Instead she chose to work in a highpowered job as a computer consultant for a large corporation. (We went to school in the ‘80s and we were all looking for the perfect yuppie job.) After a few years at the company she became pregnant and delivered a beautiful baby girl with multiple physical problems. Her daughter spent several weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit and had many surgeries before she was finally allowed to leave the hospital.

For the next several months the child was in and out of the hospital until she finally died before her first birthday. The bills were astronomical and my friend spent all of her money on her daughter’s medical care. With nothing left in the bank, she made the decision to quit her job and start over.

She went to nursing school and is now a neonatal intensive care nurse. She is fully utilizing the talents God gave her by helping others on a daily basis. I think God had been calling her to be a nurse all along. She just couldn’t take that step until she went through all she did with her daughter.

Just like Andrew, it took courage for my friend to leave all that she knew and accept the call to a new life. The story of the fishes and loaves has been told countless times. I love to imagine the looks on the pilgrims’ faces when they found out that all of the food provided came from five loaves of bread and two fish. A high school teacher of mine once posed the question, “What if everyone in the crowd had brought food that day but was afraid to share it because they knew there wasn’t enough for the entire audience? What if the miracle was that God inspired everyone to share?” I always loved that idea because it suggests that we can help make miracles. I think every day we are presented with opportunities to make mini-miracles.

When I am standing at the checkout counter and the cashier growls something at me, I have the choice to growl back or to smile and try to say something to help him have a better day. If I can succeed at turning that one person’s day around, how many other people might I affect? If I have made the cashier happy and he smiles and is nice to the rest of the people he waits on that day, in my opinion, that is a mini-miracle. God uses us as instruments to accomplish God’s work. We just have to listen to God as Andrew listened to Jesus. 

Salmon on a Cutting Board

Saint Andrew’s Salmon With Maple Soy Glaze

Serves: 6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Preheat oven: 400º F

You will need:

2 1⁄2 to 3 pounds salmon fillets
1 1⁄2 cups pure maple syrup
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (found in the Asian section of the supermarket)

Place salmon fillets skin side down in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. In a separate bowl mix maple syrup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and chili garlic sauce. Pour this marinade over the salmon. Bake in oven for 10–15 minutes. The thicker the salmon, the longer it will take to bake. The salmon will be ready when it flakes easily and looks opaque in the center.

St. Andrew’s Meal Prayer

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ’s compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which
He is to bless us now.
Attributed to St. Teresa of Avila

Brotherhood of Saints

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