November 30 is St. Andrew’s Day.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and the day is a national holiday in that country, celebrated by people of Scottish descent the world over – including me.
As is typical of saints, Andrew keeps very mixed company. In addition to Scotland, he is the patron saint of Russia, Romania and Greece. He is also the patron saint of fishermen, fishmongers, the Spanish armed forces, singers, spinsters and women who wish to become mothers. Along with his other responsibilities, he is the saint reserved for those who suffer from sore throat or gout.
The Gospels tell us very little about Andrew, beyond the fact that he was the younger brother of the apostle Peter. But when he appears in the narrative, he is usually in the act of introducing someone to Jesus. He introduces Peter to Jesus (John 1:41-44), he introduces certain “Greeks” (Gentiles) to Jesus (John 12:20-22) and he introduces the boy to Jesus who had with him the five loaves and two fishes from which Jesus fed five thousand people (John 6:8-9).
Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-49), a Scottish immigrant who became a popular preacher and chaplain of the U.S. Senate, once preached a very moving sermon about Andrew in which he filled in the gaps about this very modest saint with what he liked to call a “sanctified imagination.”
Dr. Marshall suggested that it was Andrew who made the introductions because he cared about people. He knew about the boy with the loaves and the fishes because he had taken an interest in the lad, and cared enough to become friends with him.
Said Dr. Marshall, “Andrew is not one of the greatest disciples, but he is typical of those men of broad sympathy and sound common sense, without whom the success of any great movement cannot be assured.”
As such, Andrew is everywhere: “He is the man who sits beside you on the bus … or drives the street-car, or waits on you in the store … or works at the next desk in your office … or sells you your ticket at the railroad station, or even carries your bags.”
Andrew is one of those average men and women “who are always taken for granted but without whom nothing could ever be accomplished.”
So be alert on November 30. You never know when Andrew might suddenly appear, all unrecognized, at your elbow.
Note: Dr. Marshall’s sermon on Andrew, “The Saint of the Rank and File” appears in a collection called, Mr. Jones, Meet the Master: Sermons and Prayers of Peter Marshall. It’s currently out of print, but easily available second-hand. The sermons are worth reading for themselves, but they are also worth reading in order to study the ingenious way in which Dr. Marshall arranged sentences, clauses and individual words in patterns that would help him with his delivery in the pulpit. Reading them, you can almost hear him speak. Speechwriters might feel inspired to imitate this technique, if it helps the speaker.