When I entered the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory and took a name-in-religion (“Mark Andrew”), I was obligated by the time I took my Vows to change my legal name to conform. I chose “Andrew” not because he was the first apostle to follow Jesus but, rather, because he was completely overshadowed (then and now) by his brother, Peter.
It was Peter to whom Jesus said, “You are the rock on which I build my church.” It was Peter who seemed to be part of an inner circle around Jesus (along with James and John).
Whereas the scriptures leave the impression that Peter was widely recognized, Andrew was only identifiable when described as Peter’s brother. Yet, it was Andrew who first followed Jesus; and it was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus.
Andrew must have had great strength of character to be a modest disciple who did not receive any of the recognition he arguably deserved. By making “Andrew” part of my name, I hoped it would serve as a reminder to develop a similar strong sense of character – one that is not oversensitive to the views and perceptions of others but confident in a right ordering of priorities and “the mission.”
As good fortune would have it, I then was called to St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. Here I have learned about the character of our patron, St. Nicholas. He was one who could not see a person in need without helping. This is why St. Nicholas is the patron saint of more causes than any other saint, ranging from children, young women and prostitutes, sailors, pawnbrokers, and repentant thieves, to entire nations (e.g., Russia and Greece). Furthermore, when St. Nicholas came to someone’s aid, he preferred to do so anonymously, eschewing the fame and recognition people so often chase and for which many trample on others.
For me, all the good Andrew and Nicholas did in their lives, their strength of character, their concern for the needs of others, along with their modesty and humility, are summed up in their names; such that whenever someone addresses me as “Mark Andrew” or mentions the church community I serve, St. Nicholas, I am given a mental image of my best self, of the person I would like to be. For my personal New Year’s Resolution, I pray I might live as Andrew and Nicholas lived – with strength of character, universal concern for others, and modesty. I further pray that individually and collectively as a country – one nation under God – we might stop all the fighting, regain our sense of honor and compassion, and be our best selves. Wishing you a Very Happy New Year! “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”
By The Rev. Mark Andrew Jones, BSG
Rector, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church – Pompano Beach