A Light Burns
A Repeat of a Previous Post
Aside from the street lights shining dimly through the stained glass the only other light source were the vigil candles. In the darkness the sanctuary lamp burned red, our Mother's altar lit blue and St. Joseph was illuminated gold.
I thought of my parents, both deceased, who always left a light on expecting me home and, even after adulthood, would leave the porch light on as I made my way out the door and on my way.
My way might have been down the road to my house, or out into life, toward a woman I loved or down a wayward and lost path. But always, there was a light burning for me, and warm food, and comfort and safety.
And so a light still burns...in the Sanctuary, for me, and my parents, for you and for us... where our Father waits in the dark and comfort and safety dwell.
The Church begins her liturgical year with the disciple called first by the Lord. For, while it is true that the Blessed Virgin, St. John the Baptist, St. Elizabeth, and St. Joseph (in that order) all believed in the Messiah before him, St. Andrew is the Protokletos, the first-called.
St. Andrew was the first disciple of Christ Jesus in his public ministry – and in this sense, it is fiting that his feast be celebrated at the first of the Church’s year.
However, there is a difficulty: St. John tells us that Andrew was called in the place where John was baptizing, but St. Matthew specifies that Andrew and Peter were called together while cleaning their nets on the sea of Galilee. How are these two accounts to be reconciled?
Here we see that Jesus calls Andrew and “the other disciple” (i.e. John the Evangelist) while they were yet disciples of John the Baptist. The vocation of Andrew, according to St. John, occurs south of Galilee on the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. Further, Andrew is called before Peter and he leads his younger brother to the Lord.
[4:18] And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers).  And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.  And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him.
According to St. Matthew, Jesus calls Andrew together with Peter (and Peter is named first). The two apostles are called while they were fishing on the sea of Galilee. Further, John is called after both Peter and Andrew. Hence, St. Matthew’s Gospel seems to be quite different from St. John’s.
The Fathers of the Church labored to prove the historical accuracy and reliability of the Gospels. They were especially keen to consider various places where the Gospels seemed to be in contradiction and, when they reconciled this apparent contradiction, they created what came to be called a “Gospel harmony” – to show how the four Gospels, though four voices, make a beautiful harmony singing in unison.
When considering the two accounts of the vocation (i.e. calling) of St. Andrew, the Church Fathers admit that the differences are significant. Therefore, the obvious conclusion must be: St. John is speaking of one calling, and St. Matthew is speaking of another.
Indeed, what we ought to conclude is that St. John discusses the first occasion in which Andrew was called – and, at that moment, he became the Protokletos (first-called). Together with St. John the Beloved, Andrew was the first disciple of Christ in his public ministry.
After this first calling, according to our Savior’s will, Andrew (together with John and Peter) returned to his home and took up again his labor of fishing. Some time later, Christ Jesus returned to Galilee and (after the wedding feast at Cana) he sought out him whom he had first called, together with Peter and John (and James, the brother of John). And this was the second vocation of the apostles – it is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel.
Not only does this reconcile the two Gospel accounts, but it also helps to explain something of the human element in the calling of the apostles at the sea of Galilee. At first, we might be a bit perplexed as to understand how it was that Sts. Peter and Andrew knew to abandon all and follow Christ – simply from St. Matthew’s account, it seems as though they would not know anything at all about our Savior. But, according to this Gospel harmony, we understand that the two had already met Christ and come to know much about him, for (Andrew, at least) had heard St. John the Baptist say of our Lord, Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world; and both had followed him briefly in the area near the Jordan where John was baptizing.
St. Andrew, Pray For Us!
The Evangelists are the writers of the four gospels - St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. In the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, at (4: 6-10) the evangelists are represented by symbols. St. John has an eagle, St. Luke an ox, St. Matthew, the face of a man, and St. Mark, a lion. These symbols can be found on the marble floor of the sanctuary in St. Patrick's Cathedral, in Melbourne. In Venice a huge statue of a lion stands above the piazza of St. Mark and throughout the Christian world these symbols are found on copies of the Gospels and in paintings of the evangelists.
The crossed keys are a symbol of the Papacy. This is because Christ said to St. Peter that he would give him the 'keys of the kingdom' and that whatever he bound on earth, would be bound in heaven, and whatever he loosed on earth, would be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16,19). St. Peter was the first Pope and those who have followed share this power of the keys to bind and loose. While St. Peter is often depicted in art work with the crossed keys, St. Paul is usually depicted with a sword which is a symbol of the 'sword of faith' - the weapon against the devil.
The Lamb is a symbol of Christ. The whiteness of the lamb symbolises its purity, and lambs are often associated with innocence and in the Old Testament, with sacrifice. Christ was thus the sacrificial lamb for the sins of humanity. Sometimes the lamb carries a flag symbolising Christ's victory over death in His Resurrection. This is known as the 'Lamb of Victories' symbol. Another form of the symbol shows a lamb standing on a book which is closed with seven seals. This symbolises Christ as judge at the end of the world. In the book Isaiah (53:7) are found the words: 'harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth like lamb that is led to the slaughterhouse'. These words are found in various readings for Good Friday. The Latin word for Lamb is 'Agnes' and St. Agnes is also symbolised by a figure of a lamb. St. Agnes was a Roman martyr during the period of the persecution of the emperor Diocletian. She is one of the saints mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, otherwise known as the 'Roman Canon'.
This is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. When Christ was baptised by St. John the Baptist a dove descended over him. (Matthew 3:16; and Mark 1:10). Sometimes in art a dove is depicted with seven tongues of fire which symbolise the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. A dove with an olive branch in its mouth also symbolises peace. This is because of the Old Testament account of the great flood after which Noah released a dove from the ark which returned with an olive branch in its beck. The olive branch was a sign to Noah that the waters had resided. Some saints also have the dove as their special symbol. These include: St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and St. John Chrysostom.
This is a symbol of Christ arranged as a monogram The first two letters of His name in Greek are XP. The two are usually written with the P superimposed over the X. The Emperor Constantine used the symbol on his military standards and it continues to be used in religious art, especially on liturgical vestments.