Today in the life of the Church we celebrate the feast of one of the apostles, Andrew. Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother, a fisherman, and one of the first disciples of Jesus (John’s gospel identifies Andrew as the first to follow Jesus). Andrew was martyred in the city of Patras in western Greece. The earliest records of his martyrdom suggest that he was bound, not nailed to a Latin cross–the same style of cross as Jesus. However, a tradition came about that he was crucified on a saltire, or X-shaped cross because he felt he was not worthy enough to be crucified on the same kind of cross as Christ.
Andrew is the patron saint of a whole manner of countries, not just Scotland. He is also the patron saint of Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus and Patras. He’s also the patron saint of golfers, rope-makers, fishermen and women, fishmongers and the U.S. Army Rangers.
The New Testament lesson for the Feast of St. Andrew is Romans 10:8b-18. In the passage, St. Paul makes a series of observations. They are are wonderful. He rationalizes: how can someone call on someone in whom they’ve never believed…and how can they believe if they’ve never heard of one in which to believe…and how are they to even hear if there isn’t someone to proclaim the one in which to believe…and how is someone to proclaim the one unless someone is sent? (My paraphrase of Romans 10:14-15a). And then Paul says,
“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” Romans 10:15b
What a true and wonderful summation! I wonder though, where are the “beautiful feet” in our lives today? Whose beautiful feet are beating a path to our doorstep? Will we recognize them as “beautiful feet?” Will we be like Simon Peter who has the beautiful feet of his brother Andrew deliver the news, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41b)? Or will we be like St. Nathanael who hears the same news from St. Philip’s similarly beautiful feet and scoffs, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46b).
It seems that many times in my life there have been moments when I thought the news I was receiving was indeed horrible. That the trajectory to which my life was suddenly changed because of what I supposed were, using Paul’s language, “ugly feet,” was not a good change, but a bad change, or even a seemingly-disastrous change. In some cases it was weeks, months, or even years later when in looking back I saw that the feet I then deemed ugly were not ugly at all, but indeed were beautiful. I suppose that the trick is to have hope that all of the feet bringing news are in some way beautiful; the trick is to believe that even amidst what appear to be a trampling of horribly ugly feet that God is still present, at work…at work loving you.
My prayer for us this week is that we look with new, fresh open-to-possibility eyes on all of the feet that bring us news. Not with pie-in-the-sky optimism, but with the hope that all of the feet who come our way bearing news are indeed beautiful.