These days, it’s become a rarer thing to have two grandsons in the house at the same time.
Grandson #1 is officially a Big Kid now, enrolled in kindergarten full-time. So he’s often “at school” when Grandson #2 arrives at our home each week for “Grandma’s Preschool”.
But this weekend, we had the joy and blessing of having both boys in our midst. And in those rare moments when Gramps wasn’t serving as ringleader for a variety of juvenile hijinks, I had the chance to step into the Wayback Machine and observe sibling dynamics in action.
I am myself a Second Son, so today when I see Grandson #2 interacting with his big brother, it often stirs deep memories: What it was like, always having a playmate I could count on.
What it was like, too, having to exert the energy to demonstrate that I was my own man – a separate and independent self.
At this stage of my life, I realize I wouldn’t trade those early life experiences for anything – how I grew up as part of an increasingly potent poker hand: first “two”…then “three” of a kind. Then “four jacks”…and eventually a “full house.”
Maybe I didn’t know it at the time, but I can see now that my brothers and I had the Gospel, the Good News, written all over us. Stamped on our hearts, right from the start. Saint Paul teases out a bit of that blessing in today’s second reading, when he seeks to rectify the squabbles that sometimes occur in family settings:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
Did I fight with my brothers? Sure. But the conflicts never lasted for long. And while I tended to take that grace for granted, I see now that it may have been proof of the kingdom of heaven in our midst. Together, we learned to “repent,” as Jesus exhorts in today’s gospel passage – to set our self-centered interests aside.
So in this context of productive brotherhood, I find it intriguing how St. Matthew chooses to describe Jesus’ calling of his earliest disciples:
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew…[and] He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John…He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus doesn’t seem all that interested in what these men had become as adults, does he? Rather, he seems laser-focused on what they had always been – blood brothers, beloved children of God. That appears to be at the very heart of what makes them useful for sharing the Good News…and for building up His kingdom.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
I only knew of Herman and Gerard. Surprise surprise. Take care,
David Dauphin, ‘76