Monday, November 30, 2015

Saint Andrew and the Rich Young Man

This is my homily for this morning's celebration of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

Two men: Andrew and the Rich Young Man.

You remember the young rich guy, a great dramatic character.  He runs up to Jesus, throws himself at his feet, calls him the “Good Teacher” and begs him to tell him what he must do to inherit eternal life.  He professes to have followed the commandments all his life and begs Jesus even a second time to just tell him what to do.  Mark tells us that Jesus loved him, and so the Lord told him what he had to do.  And as you will recall, he could not do it.  He could not leave all and follow Jesus.  He just walked away very sad.

By contrast, Saint Andrew seems a far less dramatic character.  He too was searching. The fourth Gospel tells us he was a former disciple of the Baptist.  But this morning he is fishing with his brother Peter in the Sea of Galilee when he hears Jesus say “Come, follow me.”  And he does, leaving all to follow him.

What’s the difference between the two men?  Both earnest, both questioning and both loved by Jesus; why did one follow and the other walk away.

Ultimately it is a mystery of God’s grace, but after three years as pastor of this holy house, I think I see something I wouldn’t have seen before.

The rich guy wants to follow Jesus more than anything in the world, except maybe leaving his world.  He is caught up with falling to his knees and loudly asking the right questions and maybe even being seen as a follower of the Lord.  Oh, he loves the Lord, but there’s just one thing he can’t let go of…himself, and all the trappings he’s accumulated in being him.  Of being his own distinct person of his own carefully crafted design..made, as it were, in his own image and likeness.

But Andrew is different.  He does not genuflect just so or ask the theologically astute questions.  He doesn’t appear to care what anyone else thinks of him.  Perhaps he’s heard an early version of the Baptist’s preaching: the disciple must decrease.  So, Andrew is just empty…just empty enough that he’s ready for God to fill him up.  Just empty enough that he can just get out of the boat and follow him.

It’s good to genuflect well and its good to ask theologically astute questions.  But none of it means anything unless I can empty myself of everything, except the desire to answer him when he looks at me with love and says “Follow me.”