The Brother of Peter

  1. THE BROTHER OF PETER

Because of the fact that the New Testament refers to him 12 times we could come to the conclusion that he is a person of the first degree. But before we are deceived with numbers we must analyze the matter thoroughly. The first thing that surprises us is that he does not have a personality of his own, so that he always appears depending on his brother Peter. So that, if he becomes important it is only bymeans of his fraternal bond with Simon Peter, of which certainly he is not to blame. Surely had he not been the brother of Peter we could know him much better for his own characteristics as his personality is rich and varied.

He was born in Bethsaida, a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee and an inhabitant of Cafarnaum: Jn 1, 14; Mark 1, 16.29. With notable international diplo­matic qualities for being a Minister of Exterior Relations in the kingdom of David. He even had the Greek name ANDREW which means “MAN”.

– A disciple of John the Baptist in the Valley of the Jordan: Jn. 1, 35-40.

– And the most important thing, he was one of the first disciples of Jesus: Jn 1, 40.

For any those attributes he could be very well identified and thus present to us his own personality…but, he had the bad luck to be the brother of the great Simon Peter, and therefore for all generations he would be known sim­ply as “the brother of Peter”. Of the 12 times that he appears in the New Test­ament, for half of them he is called by that name (the brother of Peter). On the other hand he is never presented alone; but always in connection with another disciple : Mt 4,18; 10, 2; Mark 1,16; 1, 29; 3, 18; 13, 3; Luke 6, 14; Jn 1, 40; 1, 44; 6, 8; 12, 22; Acts 1, 13. It would appear unjust that he is chiefly identified by t the fraternal link with Simon Peter, while he (Peter) is never referred to as the brother of Andrew”.

HIS VOCATION

Andrew and John, disciples of John the Baptist, had been heard to say:

“I AM NOT THE MESSIAH, NOR ELIAS NOR THE PROPHET.

HE COMES AFTER ME    (Jn 1, 20.30)

IT IS NECESSARY THAT HE INCREASES AND THAT I DECREASE”

(3, 30)

… and one evening, when Jesus passed in front of them, the master gave to his disciples the last and most important of his teachings:

“BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD; THIS IS HE WHO WILL BAPTIZE IN THE     HOLY SPIRIT.” (Jn 1, 37 and 33)

They learned the lesson, and without saying even one single word, they left the Precursor and in silence they followed Jesus whom they were losing sight of along the valley of the Jordan. John the Baptist did not reproach him; on the contrary, to give that testimony was he sent (Jn 1, 6-7).

In the midst of the solitude and the mystery of the desert, where many robbers’ highwaymen abound, Jesus tells that two suspicious men had been following him for a while. Unexpectedly he turned towards them and asked:

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?” (What do you want?)

They did not know how to answer such a profound question and therefore they in turn ask a question:

RABBI, WHERE DO YOU LIVE?”  (John 1, 38b)

Recognizing Jesus as Master (Rabbi) but we note that they did not ask “what do you teach?” nor “who are you?”, What do you do?” “What books have you written?” “What titles (degrees) have you got?” They get down to fundamentals: “Where do you live?

What most interested them were not the credentials not even if he is authorized or if he has a doctorate from the Rabbinical School of Jerusalem… what is most important is TO LIVE WITH HIM. And, that, the Master Jesus does not teach so much a doctrine as a life: Jn 10,10; some relations based on the love that he alone in the practice of living in harmony with him can be learned (That means: It is only in living in harmony with him -Jesus- that we can learn that love). What they want is to learn to LIVE. The Evangelist comments immediately afterwards:

“…and they stayed with Him…it was about four in the evening.  (Jn 1, 39)

On the other hand, it is a most beautiful teaching to compare this passage with Genesis 1-4. All the commentators are in agreement on seeing those first chapters of John, where the inaugural week of Jesus” is narrated and compared to “the week of the Creation” which we find at the beginning of the book of Genesis. We note the strong and profound parallel which without is intentional on the part of the Evangelist.

The first time that God spoke to man was thus:

“When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day… the Lord called to the man and asked him:

Where are you?’”

On the other hand, in the Gospel of St. John the first time that men speak to God it was in this manner:

“Jesus passed through the desert, about four in the afternoon” and he made practically the same question: “Where do you live?”

God searches for the sinner so that he in turn may look for him and find him. God makes his abode in the desert of men’s hearts so that they may be able to participate in his divine life.

“One of the two who had followed him after hearing John was Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew. The first thing he did was to seek out his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah!’ (This term means the Anointed-Christ) He brought him to Jesus who looked at him and said: YOU ARE SIMON SON OF JOHN; YOUR NAME SHALL BE CALLED CEPHAS (which is rendered Peter…rock)”                                                             (John 1, 40-42)

Andrew got up very early and he went to where his brother Simon was. Without asking permission to speak he began to give his testimony:

“I am just after finding a precious pearl. I have found what I have looked for all my life. I had a personal encounter with the Messiah. My life is transformed because I know Jesus.”

And afterwards he invited Simon so that he would have the very same ex­perience.

Simon did not reply. The enthusiasm and conviction of which his brother spoke left him speechless with astonishment. This is the only occasion in the whole Gospel where Simon Peter did not open his mouth to give an opinion. The force (strength) of the testimony of his brother which he personally got after meeting Jesus personally did not admit of the least reply.

Andrew, on being made a disciple of Jesus “found his brother and brought him to Jesus. This was the most important thing of his whole life.

Nevertheless it must be clearly noted that he did not bring himself but that he conducted him towards Jesus. This is the first great teaching of the brother of Peter for all masters and pastors: to bring his sheep not to himself, but to the OWNER of the FLOCK. St. Paul says that the first characteristic of false pastors is that,

“Savage wolves will come among you who will not spare the flock.”

(Acts 20, 29)

Jesus divided in two the life of each one of those brothers. Andrew, who is possibly older than Simon (cf. John 1, 46), passed to a second plane. All his life he was unconstrained in the Sea of Tiberiades and with the Baptist in the desert. He shred his profession with his brother, he shared his house also and even his mother-in-law. But since the day that instead of catching fished he fished Simon, he lived with Jesus and shared with him everything he had (all his life).

Thus as Simon left being Simon to be Peter, so also did Andrew leave being Andrew to become “the brother of Peter”.

The projection of the brother of Peter is irreplaceable in the Church of all times. He was the first disciple and the first pastor. He was the first evangelist who brought the Good News of Jesus to another person: to his brother. And his life was changed.

Let us return to the comparison with the Book of Genesis: The first ques­tion that God made to a son of Adam and Eve was:

“WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER ABEL?” (Genesis 4, 9)

And in the 4th Gospel Andrew answers Jesus:

“Here is my brother Peter.”

The projection of Andrew is capital. Look for another that could serve the Lord better than yourself. If each pastor could look for one or another disci­ple who could serve Jesus more and better, with this he would already have perfectly fulfilled his pastoral duty.

In the communities as in the Church, everyone wants to be Peter the head and rock, Peter the spokesman of the community, Peter of the morning of Pentecost. But, first they lack an Andrew who calls them (he lacks an Andrew who calls him).

God and the Church do not need thousands of Peters. On the contrary they only need one. God needs thousands of Andrew who might go with his brother and would convert him into one new disciple and bring him to Jesus. God needs men who know how to answer with acts where his brother is.

Andrew is a model of the disciple and pastor of the Church and of every type of Christian community.

– It is he who follows and lives with Jesus.

– It is he who learns, living with Jesus, not so much a new doctrine or theory but a new manner of living.

– It is he who disappears so that Christ will appear.

– He is not the owner of any kind of primogeniture (firstborn), but he looks for another who can serve the Lord better than he can and he will cede to him the principal position.

– It is he who will lead his disciples to Jesus, not to himself. The others will not follow him but will follow whom he follows (Jesus).

– It is he who does not make many things or everything but in whom God is able to realize his plan even though he passes into history with the obscure and in its own way, the glorious name of “THE BROTHER OF PETER.

Chapter 2 of Father Menard book Peter: Disciple and Pastor.

Father Eusebe Menard

Have You Ever Lived A True Christmas ?

Often, I ask myself if Christmas would be the same or even remain if Jesus presented Himself as He did 2,000 years ago. Certainly if He did, our Christmas holidays would be spoiled or at least marred.

Just think for one moment that Jesus knocks at our door as a homeless refugee, or one with a billet ticket, as a young delinquent just out of jail; or simply as a poor old relative sick and ailing, wanting to be cared for and wishing to die peacefully. Wouldn’t that kill the Christmas spirit fast? Such bother, such nuisance would certainly create strong reactions and complaints! The husband would grumble, the wife would protest the children would ask to be elsewhere to celebrate Christmas in a more joyous and peaceful décor. And then you would be alone with no one to shoulder you.

It is easy for us to tolerate in our Christmas mangers a Jesus made of plaster or sugar: such a Jesus is not bothersome and does not require much care and attention, we don’t even hear Him. But what if it was a real baby, unknown, dirty, sick and noisy. Would we not cringe and lose any religious feeling?

The true Christ, the true God is terribly cumbersome and demanding! They got rid of Him then, as we try to get rid of Him today.

We look at Christmas with some kind of nostalgia. If only we could have lived at the time of Jesus to see, to touch and to welcome Him. How we easily forget that almost everyone did not recognize, love and adore Him. How easily we forget hot time keeps on going and that Jesus is still unknown, still poor and still doubted.

Just think what would have happened if the innkeepers in Bethlehem had known who was knocking at their door. They certainly would have opened it. Were they not religious people like we are? However, they mistook Mary and Jesus for two beggars, two refugees, and two aliens, unwelcome and bothersome. Would we, today, accept them as they were accepted in those days? Are we not too practical, too prudent or too busy to do so? How can God come to us under such a disguise? Is God not absent from our comfortable homes, with all the facilities and gadgets imaginable? God is where we find the poor, the handicap, the elderly, the forgotten and He is with the ones who love and believe.

Will we recognize and welcome Christ this coming Christmas?

Written by Father Menard while in Peru. Specific date unknown.

Poor With Christ

Mt. 5: 3            “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Mt. 6:24           “No servant can be a slave of two masters. For either he will hate the first and love the second or he will be devoted to the first and think nothing of the second. You cannot serve God and Money.”

The person who, according to Christ’s example, is poor in the Gospel sense, has come to depend entirely on God in all that he is and does. (Act 17, 28) He bears witness to his concrete faith in the eternal welfare of man, to the whole mystery of our divine son ship and of the riches of God’s Kingdom. Guided by the wisdom of God, he respects the true scale of values, preferring – on the practical level the Kingdom of Heaven to the earthly kingdom.

The spirit of poverty is indispensable above all to the apostle. The Masses will always be poor, in spite of all technological progress. Our real personal and collective poverty should be clearly seen by the faithful as well as by those we are trying to bring to Christ, or else they will not believe those who come announcing the Kingdom of Heaven.

Poverty does not mean wretchedness: that is never acceptable, either for men as a whole or for isolated individuals. The vocation to real poverty is a different thing from misery, even if in certain ways one resembles the other.

“Poor” means neither “dirty” nor “lacking in taste”. The home of poor people can be perfectly clean and even rather tastefully arranged. Neither does “poor” mean “cheap”. A castle purchased cheaply is still a castle and not a poor dwelling. A poor man often rents a house, for example: he cannot afford to own it, even though – in the long run – it might be more economical for him to have bought it. The truly poor man is often not in a position to economize really by buying good and durable things.

We must also take care not to confuse poverty with the state of owning nothing. A person can deprive himself of all his property-rights and still live a comfortable life, thinking he is poor while, all along he lacks absolutely nothing. There is a great danger of slipping into a kind of “poverty” that is either hypocritical or an illusion. Actually, the poor man feels he has more than enough as long as he has access to all the goods he needs, even if they do not belong to him and can make use of them.

When comfort and ease of life take hold of a religious Society, a general slackness appears along with them. Our spiritual influence decreases greatly and the people who know us are terribly scandalized.

The members of our Society must not see in the evangelical Counsel of poverty only a “simplification” of life or an ideal of economy and moderation: neither is it simply a kind of wisdom which knows how to get along happily with very little, or a kind of spiritualism, despising secular goods, or even a means of being able to come to the aid of those who have been deprived of everything, – although this kind of charity is necessary. Rather, it is the act of abandoning all these goods men usually possess in order to show others that it is possible to cling to something else, to other goods, – invisible, but entirely real and authentic, – and to the Supreme Good, God.

This testimony should not be simply personal but institutional, – that is, given by the entire religious Society as an Institution. As such, this testimony is a sign of radical detachment, recognition of the absolute transcendence of Christ’s messianic gifts. The Institution means the entire premises, houses, reception areas, chapels, dining areas, as well as gardens, automobiles, photography and projection equipments, etc… This whole institutional set-up should be subjected to deep scrutiny. It is in this realm that poverty is often least evident. And it is precisely this that is most public, visible, and observable.

Here are some suggestions that should help in the practice of evangelical poverty:

  1. To expect everything from God, and do everything in our power to cooperate with his work.
  2. Before the Lord, to recognize our absolute need and our deep-seated lack of power, is to attract to us the power and the abundance of Christ. In order to be given all we need and more, we only have to tell God all we lack. “They have no wine..”, said Mary at Cana.
  3. To hold all our personal talents and goods in common, in order to be able to provide for the needs of each one.
  4. Apostolic poverty demands of each person all his strength, service and effective work, and a wise use of his time.
  5. To be satisfied with the essential, in everything: housing, food, clothes, vacations, and so on. To avoid what is luxurious or superfluous, or useless. It is hard to define what is necessary; it will differ with age, health, one’s own activity. But this is the ideal toward which we must tend according to the grace of God.
  6. To want to live like the poor. The poor man;
    • is satisfied with little,
    • wastes nothing,
    • is grateful for what he is given,
    • complains about nothing,
    • works with his own hands
    • hires no one unless it is necessary,
    • is not afraid of the most humble tasks,
    • possesses nothing that smacks of luxury, vanity, comfort, or superfluity,
    • is willing to be of service to every one,
    • takes good care of whatever he has,
    • avoids lavishness,
    • engages in no useless spending.
  1. To accept joyfully any suffering that results from poverty. We are truly poor unless we suffer from poverty. Christ suffered a great deal, everywhere, on account of his poverty: in Bethlehem, at Nazareth, and in his apostolic life…without even a stone on which to rest his head.
  2. To move always in the direction of greater poverty. The person who has the spirit of poverty always feels he has too much, and he tries to cut down on his possessions. He always fears being burdened with possessions and often reminds himself that the poor have less than him.
  3. To avoid becoming attached to what we do possess, or have at our disposal. Signs of attachment: to miss things that we have had to leave behind or to give up, – to be afraid of losing what we have or of being deprived of what we are allowed to use, – to become annoyed or angry at the loss of our own things, – To seek anxiously to preserve or to increase our possessions.
  4. To deprive oneself as much as possible of the “over-comfortable” or of the “best-quality” things: accept to do without the essential from time to time; to give generously to the poor, particularly to the members of our society, generally not to refuse to the person who asks for something; to visit the poor and take an interest in them, helping them to improve their lot.

In its deepest reality, poverty is humility in relation to God and to others, in complete openness to Him who is the source of all good things, in acceptation of the human condition, courageously recognizing its limitations and our failures. It is the joy of hidden service, and thanksgiving for gifts received and also for the success of others.

In order to be real, this evangelical poverty must be translated into concrete form, without being identified with the form itself. In this way, it will express the evangelical detachment pre-supposed in the true consecration of self to God and to man, in our Society.

“…You know the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”      2 Cor 8: 9

Art of Giving and Sharing

From the man who has received much, much will be demanded.

In gratitude for God’s gift of life and goodness to us, we should share these gifts with others. The art of giving encompasses many areas. It is an outgoing, overflowing way of life.

The gifts of things are never as precious as the gifts of thought. Emerson said it well: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.”

We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the heart: love, kindness, joy, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, forgiveness.

We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the mind: ideas, dreams, purposes, ideals, principles, plans, inventions, projects, poetry.

We give of ourselves when we give gifts of the spirit: prayer, vision, beauty, aspirations, peace, faith.

We give of ourselves when we give the gift of time: when we offer our minutes in helping to build a more abundant living for others.

We give of ourselves when we give the gift of words: encouragement, inspiration, guidance.

We give of ourselves with the radiant warmth of sunshine and the glow of the open fire.

We should give our community holy priests and many committed lay apostles.

As priests we have the opportunity to offer the finest gift a person can give –

As men of the Gospel we give the word of God.
As men of the Eucharist we give Jesus himself.
As men of the people of God we give peace, forgiveness, love and joy.

God Loves You!
Your Brother Priest,

Fr. E. H. Ménard
October 24, 1984