Today (Nov. 30) is the feast day for St. Andrew the apostle. He and his brother Peter were the first disciples called by Christ. When Jesus called Andrew, he immediately left his nets:
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
We all remember that Andrew followed Christ. But sometimes we forget how much he had to give up first.
Permanently walking away from his fishing nets was no small thing. He gave up his training, his trade, and his very livelihood, all so he could follow Jesus.
Giving up His Training
As a child in a family of fishermen, Andrew no doubt had received many years training. He learned the skills, expectations, values, and mindset of fishermen. This was “blue collar” work, not seminary studies. He knew how to live and think as a fisherman; he had no idea how to think like an apostle.
Imagine giving up everything you know. Leave behind everything you learned, so you can learn afresh from Christ. Imagine the humility required. Andrew was willing to do this. He was willing to turn his back on his life’s training, so that he could sit at the feet of Christ as a humble disciple.
Giving up His Trade
Andrew not only gave up everything he had learned in his life, he also gave up everything he was presently doing with his life. For him, fishing was not a hobby. It was what he did for several hours a day, almost every day of the week. He had probably learned this business from his father and grandfather, and would have been honored to continue the family business. Yet to follow Christ, he had to walk away from it all.
Imagine quitting your job. Imagine quitting your entire career. Jesus didn’t merely ask Andrew to change hobbies. Jesus asked Andrew to sacrifice his entire life’s work.
Giving up His Livelihood
Andrew not only sacrificed years of training.
Andrew not only sacrificed his life’s work.
Andrew also gave up his very livelihood.
When Andrew walked away from those nets for good, he literally threw away his only source of income. He quit his career, and thereby renounced any right to collect future “paychecks” from the fishing industry. The valuable nets, boats, and generations of faithful customers were left behind, abandoned for the sake of the Gospel.
Imagine turning your back on the only source of income you have ever known. Imagine trusting Jesus–and Jesus alone–for your daily bread. This is how much Andrew trusted Christ. He trusted Jesus to supply his every need.
Leaving Our Nets
Andrew’s nets represented his learning, his ambitions, and his wealth.
A man can be tempted to take pride in his mind, in his goals, and in his possessions, but Andrew left them all behind for the sake of Christ. By turning his back on his nets, he forever crucified himself to the world, renouncing everything that the world holds dear.
Andrew left behind his life’s training.
Are we willing to humble our minds before Jesus?
Andrew left behind his life’s work.
Are we willing to abandon our ambitions for the sake of Christ?
Andrew left behind his livelihood.
Are we willing to relinquish our wealth to serve the Kingdom of God?
Nets are designed to entangle fish. But all too often, they entangle men, barring their way to salvation. The nets of pride, ambition, and avarice have entangled countless souls, drowning them in perdition. What if Andrew had not abandoned his nets? What if he had turned his back on Christ, and had chosen his nets instead?
Andrew was not entangled by his own nets.
He abandoned them, and straightaway followed Christ.
May we do likewise.
We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.