With Evening Prayer tonight, the season of Advent begins, the time when we not only look back to the first coming of Christ, but more importantly, forward to the second coming.
This year with the first Sunday of Advent falling on December 1 we end the liturgical year today with the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. While the first-called along with Peter, there is no Hebrew name given for him, only the Greek name andreia, a word which means bravery, or valour.
Perhaps the answer to how we might imitate his valor is found in the first reading. When we hear from St. Paul:
For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The Scripture says, No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
Can we really accept that last statement as fact ? Have not many Christians been shamed, embarrassed, humiliated? The answer to both questions is yes.
It all depends on how long or short-sighted we are. In the short run many of us have been shamed and humiliated practically beyond our endurance. Sometimes even by our own doing.
When St. Paul says "No one who believes in him will be put to shame" he is not talking about being put to shame in human estimation. He means in God's estimation.
On the human level we may have to be Andrew, the brave one, as we take it right in the face, and be shamed and humiliated, whether we deserve it or not. That's just the world in which we live. We all make mistakes and there are some people who take pleasure in never letting us forget.
But Saint Paul reminds us on this last day of this liturgical year that in the face of this world's attempts to shame or humiliate, we can always stand tall,because the ONLY opinion of us that really matters in the long run is God's.
So as we start the new liturgical year, be Andrew, be brave and know that in the only eyes that count
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.