Today is the feast of St. Andrew. He was one of the 12 apostles whom Jesus called, and he is also the brother of Peter. Our Gospel reading today is the call narrative of Peter and Andrew in the Gospel of Matthew. Many Church traditions developed about St. Andrew, for example, that he was eventually martyred with an X-shaped cross. He is often depicted with this type of cross in statuary. The enduring legacy of St. Andrew is felt in the Christian world sadly through division in the Christian world.
When Pope Francis visited Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, he greeted him as his brother Andrew. The reason for the greeting goes back to the lineage of successors to the original apostles. In Roman Catholicism, we believe the Pope to be the successor to St. Peter. In the Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is seen as the successor to St. Andrew. The division between the two Churches reached a watershed moment in 1054 AD. The ecclesial leaders in each respective side of the Roman Empire could not agree over theological doctrine, which further separated a linguistically and culturally diverse Church. While both Pope Francis and Bartholomew I have greatly improved relationships between the two Churches, we are still fractured as a Christian people. We long for the unity of the Christian Church that we all may be one in Christ.
Let us pray for Christians around the world that we may be united to one another as we are united with the head of the Church, Christ. Let us embrace our sisters and brothers in faith as St. Andrew and Peter once did too.