ST ANDREW’S DAY ADDRESS (No. 2)
Hobart, Tasmania 1996
Last year, when you invited me to deliver the St Andrew’s Day Address,
I thought that would be the end of it.
But to my surprise Dylis and I received another invitation,
complete with a request to deliver the address again this year.
Thank you for your invitation. You are most gracious.
I’m not sure what we did to deserve it again this year,
but I’ll try not to do it again!
Last year I told you of one strand of tradition which linked Andrew with Scotland.
How, in the 8th century, a monk called Regulus
travelled to the east coast of Scotland
with some of Andrew’s relics.
There he met Hungus, king of the Picts,
who just happened to be enjoying one of his favourite past-times -
being at war with the English.
And you will remember how, the legend says, a sign appeared in the sky,
and, as a result, the Picts defeated the English.
Last year I also suggested that Andrew was a modern saint.
Not in the Maximilian Kolbe or Mary McKillop sense.
But in the sense Andrew is modern
because he is relevant in our changing and diverse Australian society.
For Andrew is a multicultural saint.
Claimed as patron saint of no fewer than three countries:
Scotland, Greece and Russia,
this makes Andrew very modern.
And if anyone ever finds anything he has written,
I hope it becomes compulsory reading for all politicians.
Especially in light of the current racism debate
which is going on in our country,
thanks to the Independent Member for Oxley!
This year let me add another suggestion to the ‘multicultural’ idea.
Andrew is also the saint of communication.
Well... Andrew was a gossip!
No, I don’t mean he engaged in that sort of activity
which can happen over the back fence,
or in the aisles of the local supermarket...
That sort of activity is telling tales about others,
usually with a touch of malice in them.
Andrew was a gossip in the old sense of that word...
where a friend would speak well of us, to others.
For Andrew, the biblical tradition tells us,
was always on the lookout for the good in others.
Andrew met the itinerant preacher and sage, Jesus,
and immediately went to his brother Peter
spoke well of this preacher
and brought his brother to meet Jesus.
Tradition also says Andrew met a young boy with a few loaves of bread
and an even smaller number of fish.
And in a moment of quiet reflection
saw the possibility that sharing could have on others.
And the tradition of ‘the feeding of the five thousand’ was born.
Andrew... well I am sure there are many other stories and traditions
all laying claim to be about Andrew,
the patron saint of Scotland.
What is clear, Andrew left his mark on ordinary people,
both by inviting them to experience something new and different,
and in the way he extended that invitation.
Following in this tradition,
a group has been established in the USA within the Episcopal Church
(that’s the Anglican Church here)
called the Brotherhood of St Andrew.
It is an informal association of men and boys who, emulating Andrew’s actions,
go to find their brother and take him to Christ.
And it all begins when one attempts to improve
their communication with another.
Saint of multiculturalism. Saint of communication.
Not bad for a small-time fisherman.
And talking about fishermen...
No, that’s another story for another time.