The Call of the Brother and Sister, by Erin Thielman
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
One morning recently, I watched my older children, Alexander and Abby, play with their little brother, Andrew who has Down syndrome. Andrew had speech therapy virtually (thanks, COVID) with his therapist's video call on my small phone. As I chased Andrew around the house, trying to keep him in the frame of the video call, Abby and Alexander interjected themselves into the play/speech therapy. As is true with any child, Andrew learns and develops best when he is taught by his siblings. I can instruct, but it's Alexander and Abby who inspire. It is in seeing Andrew respond to the call of his brother and sister that made me reflect and acknowledge another important sibling relationship- the brotherhood of St. Andrew and St. Peter.
Monday was St. Andrew's Memorial. It is the day that we recognize St. Andrew in the Catholic church. My husband and I named our youngest child, Andrew Paul after St. Andrew and St. Paul. As such, today is Andrew's namesake day. Andrew was the first apostle. He was the one who first recognized Jesus and introduced his brother, Peter to Jesus of Nazareth. Andrew was a fishermen who left his fishing business to become an Apostle of Jesus and a "fisher of men."
Fr. Donald Haggerty wrote that day's reflection for the Magnificat. In it, he says, "When Jesus saw Andrew and Peter at the Sea of Galilee, it was not their first encounter. The initial meeting took place by the Jordan River, an event recounted in Saint John's first chapter. There, Andrew heard the voice of Jesus ask him, "What are you looking for?" That question, we can assume, carved itself where his life might now take him. After Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus, the two went back to Galilee and their fishing. But not for long. Jesus' provocative question soon shifted to the clarity of an explicit summons. Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. It was the answer finally to the great desire for God burning in the souls of these men. They dropped everything, not in a trance and daze, but seized with certitude, already inspired by the prospect of catching souls for God."
The time of Advent is a time of waiting in anticipation for the coming of God made man. In fact the word "Advent" means "coming" in Latin. Waiting requires patience. Having patience is hard. Having a child with Down syndrome requires loads of patience. But the joy that abounds from that load is beyond amazing and completely worth it.
In Andrew's speech therapy session that morning, his therapist reminded me to allow for the "pause." She was implying to say a word for Andrew, then pause and wait for Andrew to say it. This reminded me that we should allow for the "pause" in all things in life. I have to constantly remind myself to take time and pause to read and reflect on Sacred Scripture. As parents, we need to slow down, pause, and acknowledge the beauty in our children.
Jesus called St. Andrew and St. Peter to follow Him. May we continually answer this call and follow Christ as we await the coming of the Son of God.
Erin Thielman is a mother of three, and speaker, who blogs at www.erinthielman.com where this post originally appeared.