Andrew, the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, was born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman by trade. At first he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when St. John pointed to the Lord Jesus, saying, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36), Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ. Then, Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord. Following the descent of the Holy Spirit, it fell by lot to the first apostle of Christ, St. Andrew, to preach the Gospel in Byzantium and Thrace, then in the lands along the Danube and in Russia around the Black Sea, and finally in Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, where he suffered. In Byzantium, he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop; in Kiev, he planted a Cross on a high place and prophesied a bright Christian future for the Russian people; throughout Thrace, Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, he converted multitudes of people to the Faith and ordained bishops and priests for them. In the city of Patras, he performed many miracles in the name of Christ, and won many over to the Lord. Among the new faithful were the brother and wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. Angered at this, Aegeates subjected St. Andrew to torture and then crucified him. While the apostle of Christ was still alive on the cross, he gave beneficial instructions to the Christians who had gathered around. The people wanted to take him down from the cross but he refused to let them. Then the apostle prayed to God and an extraordinary light encompassed him. This brilliant illumination lasted for half an hour, and when it disappeared, the apostle gave up his holy soul to God. Thus, the First-called Apostle, the first of the Twelve Great Apostles to know the Lord and follow Him, finished his earthly course. St. Andrew suffered for his Lord in the year 62. His relics were taken to Constantinople; his head was later taken to Rome, and one hand was taken to Moscow.
In the time of Emperor Constantine the Great, a learned man from Tyre by the name of Meropius traveled to India. He took with him two young Christians, the brothers Edesius and Frumentius. On the journey, their boat was shipwrecked in a storm off the coast of Abyssinia, and the wild Abyssinians killed everyone on the boat except these two brothers. They lived in Abyssinia for several years, and managed to enter into service in the imperial court of the Abyssinian king. Frumentius began to preach the Christian Faith, initially very cautiously, and was convinced that this land would be fruitful for such preaching. The two brothers then took ship: Edesius to Tyre, to his parents, and Frumentius to Alexandria, to Patriarch Athanasius the Great. Frumentius explained the situation in Abyssinia to the Patriarch, and sought pastors for those newly converted to the Faith. St. Athanasius consecrated Frumentius to the episcopacy. St. Frumentius returned to Abyssinia where, by his zeal and his miracles, he converted all of Abyssinia to the Christian Faith in his own lifetime. This great shepherd of the flock of Christ, the enlightener of Abyssinia, reposed peacefully in the year 370 and went to live in the Kingdom of his Lord.
St. Andrew, by the Spirit enlightened,
And the First-called Apostle of Christ,
Proclaimed the Lord day after day,
And baptized the people with the Cross.
Like a gardener in his own garden,
Through village and town he walked,
And skillfully grafted wild trees,
Watering them with Living Water,
Until he came to the end of his days,
And saw the Cross awaiting him.
Joyful Andrew said to the Cross:
"Greetings, O Cross! God sanctified thee,
Christ sanctified thee with His body.
O Cross, be thou my resting place.
From the dust of the earth, take me;
To God in the highest, raise me up,
And let Christ take me from thee-
The very Christ Who, because of me, was crucified on thee."
Disciple of the holy Baptist,
And apostle of Christ the Savior
O Andrew, first-called star,
By your prayers, help us.
St. John Chrysostom says: "All is given to the Apostles." That is, all gifts, all power, all the fullness of grace which God gives to the faithful. We see this in the life of the great apostle, St. Andrew the First-called: He was an apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11). As an evangelist, he carried the good news of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth; as a prophet, he prophesied the baptism of the Russian people and the greatness of Kiev as a city and a Christian center; as a pastor, he established and organized many churches; as a teacher, he tirelessly taught people right up to and during his crucifixion, when he taught from the cross until his last breath. In addition to this, he was a martyr, which is also according to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and is not given to everyone. And so we see in this apostle, as in the others, the fullness of the grace of the Spirit of God. And every great work that a follower of Christ performs must be ascribed to that grace. St. Frumentius testifies this to us. When he returned from Alexandria to Abyssinia as a consecrated bishop, he began to perform the greatest miracles, thus converting great masses of people to the Faith. Then the amazed king asked him:"So many years have you lived among us and never have we seen you perform such miracles. How is it that you do so now?" To this, the Blessed Frumentius replied to the emperor: "This is not my work, but the work of the grace of the priesthood." The saint then explained to the king how he had forsaken parents and marriage and the whole world for the sake of Christ, and how he had-by the laying on of hands by St. Athanasius-received the grace of the priesthood: miracle-working grace.
Contemplate the spiritual fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
on the ignorance and hardheartedness of the pagans
The gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18).
What is vanity, my brethren? All that is seen outside God, cut off from God and done without the fear of God. What is vanity of the mind, my brethren? To live and interpret life, not by God's law but rather by one's own passing thoughts and desires. Whence, my brethren, does this evil come to men? From hardness of heart and from inner ignorance. What does hardness of heart mean, brethren? It means a heart empty of love for God and fear of God, and filled with lustfulness and fear of everything for the body's sake. Brethren, what is born of hardness of heart? Ignorance-complete ignorance of divine things, divine ways and divine laws; a heart completely dulled to spiritual life and spiritual thought. What is the final consequence, brethren, of hardness of heart and ignorance of divine truth? A darkened understanding and alienation from the Living God. Darkened understanding occurs when the mind of man becomes as darkened as the body, and the light that is in man becomes darkness. Oh, such a darkness! A darkened understanding is a darkened mind. A darkened mind knows the meaning of nothing, or denies the meaning of everything. In such a condition, a man is alienated from the life of God, and he withers and dies like a body part cut off from the body. Such are the pagans, such are the godless, and such are those of little faith or false Christians. But even dry wood, when it is watered with the life-creating water of Christ, comes to life and bursts forth in greenery. Even the dried-up pagan world was raised up and brought to life by Christ the Lord. How much more so would it be for repentant Christian sinners!
Let us look at ourselves, my brethren. Let us do so every day. Let us ask ourselves every day whether we have become darkened and alienated from the life of God because of our vanity. Soon there will be death, the end and judgment. The dry wood will be cast into the unquenchable fire.
O Lord Jesus, our Mind and our Life, help us to think with Thee, and to live with Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.