My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE THIRTIETH DAY OF THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER THE LABORS AND PASSION OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST CALLED
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
As the first-called of the Apostles, and brother of their leader, O Andrew, entreat the Master of all that peace be granted unto the world and great mercy to our souls.
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
Let us acclaim the namesake of courage, that herald of things divine, the first-called of the Savior's disciples, and the kinsman of Peter; for as he formerly cried out to him, so doth he now to us: Come, we have found the Desired One.
Saint Andrew, the first-called Apostle of Christ, was a native of the city of Bethsaida, the son of a Hebrew named Jonah and brother of the holy chief of the Apostles Peter. Disdaining the vanity of this world and preferring virginity to wedlock, he did not wish to marry, and having heard that the holy Forerunner and Baptist John was preaching repentance by the Jordan, he forsook all things and became his disciple. When his teacher pointed to Jesus as He passed by, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God," Andrew left the Baptist and followed Jesus Christ. Andrew knew from the books of the Prophets that Jesus was truly the long-awaited Messiah, so he hurried to find his brother Simon Peter, to whom he declared, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ!" He then led Peter to Jesus. Afterwards, while he was fishing with Peter off the shore of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus called to them, saying, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men," Andrew dropped his nets and without delay obeyed the Lord's summons, following Christ together with his brother Peter. Thus Andrew is known as the First-Called because he became a follower of Jesus Christ before any of the other Apostles.
After the Lord's voluntary Passion and Resurrection, Saint Andrew, like the other Apostles, received the Holy Spirit, Who descended on him in the form of a tongue of fire. When the holy Apostles divided the countries of the earth among themselves, it fell to Saint Andrew to spread the Gospel in the lands of Bithynia and the Propontis, in Chalcedon, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, and as far as the Black Sea and the Danube, as well as in Thessaly, Hellas (Greece), Achaia, Amisus, Trebizond, Heraclea, and Amastris. Saint Andrew did not merely pass through these lands and cities; he underwent numerous afflictions in every place where he preached Christ. Strengthened by the Lord's All-Powerful succor, he gladly endured every misfortune.
Especially great sufferings befell Saint Andrew in the city of Sinope. There the people cast him to the ground, bound him hand and foot, and dragged him about, beating him with switches and stoning him all the while. Although they severed his fingers and shattered his teeth, he was made completely whole by the grace of his Savior and Teacher. After leaving that city, Saint Andrew continued on his way to Neo-Caesaria, Samosata, and the countries of the Alans, Abchasians, Zychians, and Bosporians. From there he sailed to Byzantium, where he was the first to preach Christ. He instructed many in the faith there, ordained presbyters and consecrated as bishop Stachys, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Epistle (Letter) to the Romans.
Then, returning to the apostolic labor of spreading the Gospel of Christ, Saint Andrew passed through Pontus, the lands bordering the Black Sea, Scythia, and the Chersonese. By God's Providence he reached the river Dnieper in the land of Russia, and halting beneath the hills of Kiev, said to those with him, "Do you see these hills? Believe me: on them the Grace of God will shine and a mighty city will rise. God will cause many churches to be built here and will enlighten the future land of Russia with Holy Baptism." As he climbed the hills, the Saint blessed them, and he set up a cross, prophesying that the people who dwelt there would receive the faith from the Apostolic See which he had established in Byzantium.
After passing through towns in the north, in the region where Novgorod the Great now stands, Saint Andrew continued on to Rome and Epirus. Then he returned to Thrace where he confirmed the Christians in the faith, appointing bishops and teachers for them. Having traveled through many other lands, he reached the Peloponnesus, and entering the city of Patras, a city of Achaia, lodged with an honorable man named Sosius, whom he raised up from his bed of sickness. As a result of this miracle, Saint Andrew succeeded in converting the entire city of Patras to Christ in a short time. The holy Apostle also restored the health of Maximillia, wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. After her healing, she also came to believe in Christ. Likewise, the wise Stratocles, the Proconsul's brother, and many others were healed when the holy Apostle laid his hands on them. Because of this, Aegeates became angry seized the holy Apostle, and commanded that he be crucified. Concerning these things the presbyters (priests) and deacons of the land of Achai wrote the following:
"We, the presbyters and deacons of the Church of Achaia, write to all churches of the East, West, South, and North to tell of the Passion of the Holy Apostle Andrew, which we beheld with our own eyes. Peace be unto you and to all who believe in the One God, perfect in Trinity: the True, unbegotten Father, the True begotten Son; and the True Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son! This is the faith we were taught by the Holy Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, whose suffering we beheld and wish to relate, as much as we are able.
"The Proconsul Aegeates was on his way to the city of Patras, intending to compel those who believed in Christ to sacrifice to idols. Before reaching the city, however, he was met by Saint Andrew, who said to him, "It would behoove you, a judge of men, to come to know Him Who is your Judge and dwells in heaven. Acknowledge the True God and worship Him, turning away from the false divinities you now adore!"
"Aegeates answered, "Are you Andrew, who razes the temples of the gods and teaches the people the sorcerous faith which has recently appeared and which the emperors of Rome have ordered destroyed?"
"The emperors of Rome," said Andrew, "do not understand what was clearly demonstrated by the Son of God, Who came to the earth to save mankind: that the idols are not gods but the abodes of unclean demons, enemies of the race of man, which teach men to anger God and cause him to turn away from them. When God turns from men in anger, the demons lead them astray and enslave them. Finally, their souls issue forth naked from their bodies, possessed of nothing but their own sins."
"The Jews nailed your Jesus to the Cross because He was a preacher of fables," scoffed Aegeates.
"Andrew replied, "O if only you could understand the mystery of the Cross and comprehend that it was out of love for us that the Creator of the human race endured voluntary crucifixion! He knew beforehand when He would suffer and prophesied that He would rise on the third day. At his last supper with us, He announced His betrayal, plainly foretold what would befall Him, and went unconstrained to the place where He was delivered into the hands of the Jews."
(To be continued)
HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW PRAY FOR US AND FOR OUR FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION!
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God