The Nativity Fast is always full of holidays. The saints seem to be lining up to glorify the Born Christ. On December 13, we celebrate the memory of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.
Ontologically, existentially and hierarchically, the apostolic mission has been carried out by the Most Holy Theotokos, as well as the twelve and the seventy apostles. Their ”legal successors” are the bishops of the Orthodox Church. But morally and spiritually, all of us, Orthodox Christians, are apostles, especially today, when some forces again want to plunge the world into paganism and the darkness of atheism.
Father Dimitriy Smirnov once drew a remarkable parallel, comparing millions of people on their way to hell with a powerful tsunami. A Christian is a person who goes against the current of this very strong tsunami resisting it every day of his life.
Doing so takes the courage that the apostles had. Notably, the name Andrei is translated from Greek as “courageous”. We also need truly apostolic courage to stand in faith, cleave to God and be a conductor of His light, shining it in the world around us.
The holy righteous John of Kronstadt once wrote that we need to travel after Christ across the Galilean plains, while Saint Theophan the Recluse said that we should become kin to the Substitutionary Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. That way, following the Most Holy Theotokos and the apostles, we enter into the living service of the living God, Who is the same for us as He was for them; and Who is with us until the end of the age. (Matt 28:19).
The life of an Orthodox Christian, whether a priest, a monk, or a layman, is, first of all, service to God. In a sense, this is the ministry of a modern “apostle”. Whether baptizing a person, sanctifying a house, doing a marriage, hearing a confession, giving communion, performing a funeral or doing other services, a priest enters the universal battle of light and darkness, where God fights with the devil for the human soul. One can feel how the words of prayer open heaven, and the grace of the Holy Spirit transforms and sanctifies the reality. It is the same with an Orthodox layman. Even riding a trolleybus leaves plenty of room for our apostolic mission. The light of Christ can still be in the way we interact with the people around us. We can spread it even silently, by making the sign of the cross when we see a temple, by choosing what we listen to in our headphones etc. Whether we are with our family or at work, at an anniversary table or walking in the park, we are conductors of the Divine light, the vanguard of the church, illuminating space and time as a lit candle.
Let us not forget that. Let us remember our apostolic ancestry, through which the gospel message is continued in the world. The Holy Apostle Peter says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; once not a people, but now the people of God; formerly unpardoned, but now have mercy ”(1 Pet. 2: 9, 10).
Our life, the life of an Orthodox Christian is a service to God. In this sense, we become earthly angels and heavenly people, obtaining happiness and beatification through the doors of paradise that open to us through this ministry. These doors open already here, on earth, both in our own souls and hearts, and in the hearts of many around us and those who follow us.
Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, pray to God for us!
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds