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St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle

His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL, is the second in the series.

Few saints are as prominent in our Eastern Orthodox tradition as St. Andrew the Apostle. Various early traditions recount his missionary travels throughout Eastern Europe: what is now Greece, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia. Our "first among equals," the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, is known as the successor of St. Andrew. Indeed, St. Andrew is dear to the hearts and minds of many Orthodox Christians worldwide.

But before he became the patron saint of some of the most prominent Orthodox nations and sees, who was he? He appears in all four Gospels as one of the Twelve Disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of St. John informs us that he was the first of the Lord's disciples, hence St. Andrew's title in Greek, "Protokletos" (First-Called). He is not as prominent a personality in the Gospels as some of the others, particularly his more boisterous brother Simon Peter. But St. Andrew is always there, just below the surface. And by observing the few times he rises to the surface of the Gospels, we can discern something about his personality, his close relationship with his Master, and his role as a guide and intercessor for the Holy Church today.

Thomas the Twin

With this article, His Grace Bishop Anthony has initiated a series of spiritual meditations on the Holy Apostles. The series begins with this reflection by Fr. Andrew Kishler of St. George Orthodox Church, Spring Valley, IL.

The Apostle Thomas, for the most part, lives in the background of the four Gospels. St. John tells us in his Gospel that Thomas was also called "Didymus," or "the Twin," but we really do not know anything about the origin of this nickname. Perhaps he had a twin brother or sister? The name "Thomas" seems to be derived from a Hebrew word which means "twin," so perhaps "Didymus" was simply his name translated into Greek. We know him colloquially as "Doubting Thomas," which is true up to a point, but still a rather unfortunate way to remember him! St. Thomas did at first doubt the Lord's resurrection, but only because he was not with the other disciples when the Lord first paid them a visit. When he met the Risen Lord, he believed!

Three times in St. John's Gospel St. Thomas rises to the forefront, and we can learn a great deal about him and about our own faith from these instances.

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