IF YOU CONFESS with the lips that Jesus is the Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Saint Paul was to show by the whole of his life that the confession of faith sets the believer on a path that leads through trials and suffering. Jesus himself had already made it a prominent teaching that to call on his name as Lord must be but a beginning; a true disciple, he declared, becomes a member of his spiritual family by living out faith in act. ”The one who does the will of God is the person who is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35) As Saint Andrew, whose feast we commemorate at this mass today, witnessed by his death, such faith in the Lord Jesus, soon requires acts that lead one to carry the cross. Jesus himself had shown in his life that doing the Father’s will entails anguish and a willingness to suffer even unto death. An ancient Tradition tells us that Andrew’s fidelity in living out the mission he received from the risen Christ after the resurrection resulted in his not only carrying the cross but dying on it.  

Some of the most ardent disciples of our Lord, who proved fervent and loving in their faith, such as Martha and Mary, showed the genuineness of their commitment to him through lives that daily carried out the will of the Father, but were not called upon to shed their blood to witness to their heartfelt faith. They did carry the cross, however, in following the Lord through the daily self-denial and suffering that obedience to the will of God inevitably entails. As we strive to join them in this same determination to be true friends of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we soon discover that drawing closer to God encounters unforeseen resistances from within our own heart. We become aware- at times of failure especially, acutely aware- of weaknesses, even of defects in deeper layers of our character that had remained active but outside our awareness. Such discoveries are not made easily for if our faults remain hidden from our self, it is because we have constructed walls of resistance behind which they have remained hidden from us, though commonly quite obvious to those we live with.

Only by dint of resolute desire for a true intimate friendship with God that is the impulse generated by heartfelt love, can we uncover and demolish our inner resistance to facing our own falsity and weakness. The holy Church fathers who spoke so insistently on the need for self-knowledge in order to arrive at the living knowledge of God had learned by their experience how necessary and how challenging it is for us to remain engaged in this process of gaining these insights and the solidity resulting from building our life on this search for truth through loving faith.   As we honor Saint Andrew who proved faithful to this daily struggle of fidelity to the light of truth revealed by our great Master, may we, by this Eucharist we offer, open our hearts to the grace that the risen Lord offers us. And may this holy sacrifice make fruitful our efforts to respond to his invitation to become and remain true friends, living in the light of God’s love, even now in this passing world.   &

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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