Venite post me

Andrew, a fisherman like his brother Simon Peter, and disciple of John the Baptist, is commemorated today. It was when John pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God,” that Andrew took after Him, instead; quite literally, as we read. Jesus senses the man walking behind him, turns and asks, “What do you seek?” Andrew wants to know where He lives. Jesus says, “Come and see.”

There is a certain freshness and simplicity in the Gospels that does not seem to wear. A momentous event like this is conveyed, as the gentle morning. Or it is like falling in love. Whatever one happened to be thinking, in a nanosecond all is transformed. Soon Andrew and his brother will hang up their nets, walk away, with Jesus. They were seeking; they found.

Many things are lost to history, and cannot possibly be recovered in this world; the secret paths and correspondences; the sudden unexpected clarities. A thousand years is like a day, a day is like a thousand years. The days: who can count them?

The patron of Scotland, and of Russia, was martyred we cannot be sure where. The legends which connect him with St Andrews, and with Kiev, are projected through many later centuries by way of relics and inspirations we can neither reconstruct. We will never know in this world the route Andrew followed as Apostle and missionary, to Achaia and beyond. No academic will find all the missing pieces; there are too many of them. The image of the diagonal cross (the Caledonian “saltire”) to which Andrew was tied not nailed, so that he died slowly, preaching all the while — can itself be dated only to the High Middle Ages.

We follow Christ in awkwardness and confusion, even within faith. What were we looking for? Not what we imagined. Finally we ask Him rather than ourselves. And the answer as He turns is, “Come and see.”

In today’s Feast the world rolls from one Christian liturgical year towards another. The Advent lies ahead, in preparation for Christmas, when we will tell the “infancy narratives” again. All Christian roads lead from there, to Easter; all will convergence at His feet. Eternity leads thence: through the eye of the needle,  “Heaven’s gate in Jerusalem wall.” We cannot overlook the Crucifixion. We cannot forget that each owes a death. We are on pilgrimage towards it — whether with or without the Guide.

Already the road behind is fading. Where have we been and where are we going? Christ turns to us, saying, “Come and see.”