Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saint Andrew and My Brother

This is a written out version of a homily I gave at two very different Masses today, one was St. Malachy grade school (focusing on the jealousy piece), and one was for a Ritter senior retreat. I decided to type it out because I personally found it very enjoyable to deliver.


Growing up, my brothers and I were always around football. My grandfather is the second winningest coach in Kentucky high school history. My dad was a great coach for a long time at Roncalli until he needed to make more money for our family, and so he hung up his whistle. Since before I can remember, my brothers and I all wanted to play football.

When I finally got the chance in 5th grade, I wasn't very good. I wasn't fast, couldn't throw, and wasn't big enough to play on the line. I had fun with it and loved playing, I just wasn't very good.

My brother Matt, the brother immediately younger than me, was a much different story. He was tall, fast, and athletic. He could throw, run, catch, etc. He played quarterback and was one of the best players on his team.

Not only that, Matt was back then (and still is) the funniest person I've ever known. If he weren't called by God to teach math, I'm sure he would be doing standup comedy.

I say this to establish the fact that, while growing up, in grade school and high school, I had a lot of jealousy for Matt's humor and athleticism.

Which brings us to today's feast. Saint Andrew. As the Gospel relates, St. Andrew is the brother of...St. Peter. St. Peter in the Gospels is the star of the Apostles. Jesus tells Peter - "I'm building my Church on you." In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter gives the speeches and heals people. Peter settles disputes as the unanimous final authority. Peter gets the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. A quick look at some of the early writings of the Church, and we all see a similar pattern of deference to Peter...

...And then there is Andrew his brother. If the Apostles were ever characters in a school play, getting to play Andrew would be almost on par with starring as the tree.

St. Andrew had to at times struggle with jealousy - but I think the lesson is he clearly got over it. I can honestly say that today I don't have even a twinge of jealousy for my brother Matt. We both support each other, and when I see him do something hysterical (we work together at Ritter) or hear from another teacher about something he said or if someone tells me about what a great job he does teaching, I am filled with 100% pride and 0% jealousy. "That's my brother!" I think to myself. And I know he'd say the same for me at this point in his life.

If I've been able to get to that point, then surely St. Andrew did as well.

100 Psychologists will agree on nothing except that we are shaped in gigantic ways by our families of origin - ways that we may not see at the moment. Some of the ways that our families have shaped us we try to bury or hide away. Even people who come from great families have struggles to overcome - whether it be jealousy (me) or juggling the dynamics of balancing so many intersecting relationships, and the list could go on forever.

We have to be honest with ourselves about our families. We have to A) admit that they have a strong impact on us B) admit that we have gained many great things from our families and C) there are issues in our family dynamics that must be overcome and dealt with.

St. Andrew had no choice but to think, "who am I in relationship to "the rock" of Jesus' Church?" but he put in the hard work, and he surely got to a point of healing as well. Maybe he talked with Jesus about it, maybe he talked with his friends about it...one thing is for sure, he put in the hard work to get to a spot where he was no longer haunted by the successes of his brother.

May we get to that same spot someday with the memories, relationships, and personalities of our own families.