"Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, 'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men'" (Matt 4:19).
Evangelization begins with two brothers. In John's account, Andrew hears of Jesus, goes and finds his brother Peter and brings him to meet him. The two fisherman brothers become Jesus' first disciples. We celebrate the feast of St. Andrew today. He is a special patron of Greece, and we think of the boats filled with refugees arriving on the shores of Greece, and also of Scotland, whose flag has the x-shaped cross on which Andrew is said to have been crucified for preaching Jesus.
These images merge today with the news that Evangelist Pope Francis has completed his trip to Africa, ending it with a visit to a mosque in the Central African Republic, where he addressed the deadly conflict between Christian and Islamic militias with the words: "Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters."
The pope's journey to the global south to be with refugees in areas devastated by deforestation, exploitation and war was both a pastoral visit and a strong sign to the UN climate change summit in Paris, where representatives of 150 nations are meeting to reach and agreement to decrease fossil fuel emissions that scientists say are endangering the future of the planet we all share as our common home. Climate change is at the root of so many global problems, as sea levels rise and agriculture is impacted. Selfish interests that benefit the few are threatening the survival of the entire ecosystem that supports all life on earth.
Fundamental issues of global unity and fairness, responsible use and sharing of the earth's resources, glaring disparity between rich and poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, all converge on decisions the human community must make together about the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children. Pope Francis, as vicar of Christ, had brought the gospel message of peace, justice and the common good to the fore in these urgent and decisive deliberations.
We rejoice to hear good news in the midst of great challenges, a message of hope -- that all human beings are brothers and sisters, members of one family, meant to find dignity and joy in this world.
I ask your prayers for another young Andrew, struggling now to transform his life from the mystery of human suffering. He will some day be an evangelist to his fellow sufferers, that choosing life is the way forward.