How we can give our friends the best gift: their vocation
A Reflection for a Christmas Weekday
Find today’s readings here.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. (Jn 1:40-41)
In November, I wrote for this Scripture reflection series about St. Andrew, disciple of Jesus and brother of Simon Peter, and the very little the Gospels have to teach us about him. I wrote that his relative anonymity, if you will, makes him a great companion for prayer, and for Ignatian imaginative prayer in particular.
I’ll admit that when I wrote that originally it was mostly an idea, one that seemed interesting to me but not necessarily one that I had put into practice very much in my own life. But in the time since, I’ve noticed a kind of fondness that I’ve developed for Andrew. When I see his image in a church or hear him mentioned in a reading (like John’s Gospel today), I perk up like I’m meeting a familiar friend. Though the details we know about his life are few, now I’m looking for them everywhere, imagining what they might mean for me.
What I love about his role in today’s Gospel is that he brings his brother not just to Jesus, but to Simon Peter’s own calling. Andrew acts as a holy guide, encouraging a loved one to meet the people and go to the places where they will find out who they are meant to be.
The moment I’m talking about is the one in which Jesus lays eyes on Simon and immediately gives him his new name: Cephas in the Aramaic, translated to Peter in the Greek. Many Catholics will know that the name means “rock” in English, so the name is symbolic, since Peter is the rock, the foundation, upon whom Jesus chooses to build the church.
Andrew acts as a holy guide, encouraging a loved one to meet the people and go to the places where they will find out who they are meant to be.
Thanks to his brother Andrew, Peter is there that day, ready to receive his vocation and purpose. Unlike in Matthew’s Gospel that we read in November, in John’s account today the brothers do not meet Jesus together. Andrew, originally a disciple of John the Baptist, meets him first. Convinced that Jesus is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for, he rushes to share the good news with his brother—and to insist that Simon get the chance to experience Jesus, too.
What a kind, personal, holy gift to give to someone you love: “I want you to meet this person. I have a feeling they might change your life.” Keeping Andrew’s example in mind, we can do two things. First, we can introduce our loved ones to the people, places and things that we suspect might bring them joy and purpose. Second, we can thank the people who have done this for us.
Sure, it might mean introducing someone to Christ and to his ideas explicitly, or showing your appreciation for the people who taught them to you. But it also might mean sending your friend a song that speaks to exactly what they’re going through right now. It might mean thanking a parent or mentor who pushed you to try something scary that ended up being just the challenge you needed. The more we connect with the people we love, the better they come to know God and themselves. And in the process, so do we.