Biblically speaking, if anyone had the right to resent playing “second fiddle” to anyone, particularly a sibling, it was Andreas bar Yochannan, better known as St. Andrew, brother of Simon Peter.
Andrew in the Synoptic Gospels
Andrew is listed alongside his brother in the list of Apostles in the Synoptic Gospels and is usually identified as Peter’s brother. In the Synoptics, Andrew and Peter leave their fishing nets behind when Jesus calls for them to follow Him, along with James and John, the sons of Zebedee. However, of these four, Andrew is the only one who is not invited to be part of Jesus’ innermost circle, who are present at significant events such as the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is not hard to imagine someone becoming resentful not just at only being remembered as the relative of a more famous person but at being the only one in an original group left out of a more exclusive group. Although Andrew is generally thought of as the younger brother, no indication of age is given. (Though the identification of the fishing boat as belonging to Peter would tend to imply that he is the elder of the two brothers.) It is entirely possible that Peter was younger than Andrew, and thus, the situation even more humiliating, as anyone with younger brothers could attest.
In the Gospel according to John
It would have been even more galling for Andrew because he is the one who introduced Peter to Jesus in the first place. Like the Apostles Phillip, Nathaniel and Thomas; the role of Andrew is expanded in the Gospel according to John. Here, Andrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist, and followed Jesus after John pointed him out as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, Andrew goes to find his brother Simon and introduces him to Jesus, who gives him the name Peter.
Later in the Gospel, Andrew is one who points out the boy with five loaves and two fish to Jesus, who multiplies the food into enough to feed 5,000 men and their families. Just before Our Lord’s Passion, a group of Greeks approach Phillip and ask to speak to Jesus. Phillip refers the matter to Andrew and together they take the Greeks to see Jesus. This is a significant event because Jesus had explicitly stated the His ministry was first and foremost to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel.” It is interesting that the Greeks approach Phillip, who has a Greek name, and he is joined by Andrew, whose name is also Greek. (They are the only Apostles with Greek, rather than Hebrew names.)
Ministry to the Gentiles would come later, but one of the first significant steps is taken here as a result of Andrew taking the initiative. Almost every action that he takes in the Gospel according to John is one of leading people to Christ. For this reason, he is the patron saint of (among many other things) the U.S. Army Rangers, whose motto is “Rangers Lead the Way”
Ministry and Martyrdom
Andrew’s only mention in the Acts of the Apostles is in the list of the Apostles. He is obviously present at Pentecost and is later arrested and flogged along with the rest of the Twelve. Then, like the rest of the Apostles not named Peter or John (and perhaps James and Phillip), he fades from view. Tradition states that after preaching the Gospel throughout the Eastern portion of the Roman Empire, he eventually was crucified in Patras, Greece on an X-shaped cross, to which he was tied, rather than nailed, in order to prolong his suffering. (The legend states that he hung on the cross for three days and was actually taken down alive, but that he succumbed to his injuries.) Like his brother Peter, Andrew specifically requested that his cross be altered, as he did not see himself worthy to suffer in the same way that His Master had.
In the Canon
Despite his relative Scriptural obscurity, Andrew is singularly honored in the greatest prayer of the Church: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Roman Canon (now known as Eucharistic Prayer I) Andrew is the only Apostle besides Peter and Paul, whose name cannot be skipped in the First Commemoration. Sts. John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias and Barnabas are similarly honored in the Second Commemoration but Andrew is the only one of the original Twelve Apostles, besides Peter, so honored. (Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, and both Paul and Barnabas were never considered to be part of the original Apostolic College.) Andrew is also the chief patron saint of both Scotland and Russia.
We often grow resentful when others are honored for what we perceive to be our accomplishments or if another person is placed in a position of which we consider ourselves to be deserving. This is often exacerbated when that person is a relative, particularly a sibling. If we are to be truly committed to following the will of God in all things, we must be willing to accept sometimes being on the sidelines or being the background guy. Too often, we think that whatever God is calling us to do means we will be front and center. We must remember that our greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God, and to His Church, may not be something that we ourselves do but rather someone that we lead to Christ, through whom He does great things. Even if all we do is lead another person to Christ, that itself is an infinitely great thing, because what greater gift is there, especially for someone we love, than salvation and relationship with Christ?
Through the intercession of Saint Andrew the Apostle, may we always remain humble to the will of God and through that humility win many souls for Christ.
Te glorious Apostolorum chorus laudat. Sancte Andreas, ora pro nobis!