Are We Our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper?

Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

I recall my childhood memories with nostalgia. I remember several times I went out with my younger brother to visit a friend, go hunting, fishing, or take a stroll on a cornfield or farmland. We enjoyed doing it, and any of us could initiate it by simply saying, hi brother, let us go to so, so, and so. Of course, none of us was afraid of going out with each other, nor was there a thought of harming one another. I imagine that was the disposition of Abel when Cain invited him to take a walk with him in the field. I suppose he was excited about the walk, but little did he know that he would meet his untimely death.

Cain and Abel’s story is a familiar biblical story that describes the effects of jealousy and other negative attitudes. The story presents Cain as a farmer and Abel, a nomad. The emphasis of the story is not about their individual trade and whether one is better than the other. Instead, it is on using the product of their trade to the honor, glory, and worship of God. Cain offered to God the least of his product, and it was found wanting before the presence of God. On the other hand, Abel offered a befitting sacrifice to God, the best of his flocks, and it was pleasing to God. The rejection of Cain’s offering by God caused him to kill his brother Abel.   

God asked Cain, where is your brother, Abel? He answered coldly and uninterestedly, “I do not know, am I my brother’s keeper?” Indeed, his attitude did not depict one’s brother’s or sister’s keeper’s attitude. He showed hatred toward Abel and wickedness too. He took his life for no reason. Abel was not the cause of Cain’s offering rejection and his misfortune, but somehow, Cain blamed the whole incident on Abel and judged him deserving of death. Cain did not look inward, nor did he ask the necessary questions to find the right answers. Instead, he took the easy way out, the simplistic solution, which is to blame the other, and run away from responsibility. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in similar situations where we do not want to accept responsibility for our actions. We think that our parents, our siblings, our guardians, our teachers, or anyone who has ever had a relationship with us are the cause of problems. We engage in an endless blame game that solves no problems. It is vital to note that the blame game stagnates us, but accepting responsibility makes us work out a better solution to our problems. Sometimes, we need to look inwards, ask the necessary questions, and take responsibility for a better solution.

Being our brother’s/sister’s keeper is looking out for them, watching their backs, and making sure that nothing harmful befalls them. It entails sticking up for them. It manifests itself also in being happy at the progress or success that they make. Cain failed to do these. The truth is, God has called us to be our brother’s or sister’s keeper. He created us for one another and to help each other in various needs. It is a challenging responsibility that we have to assume. Therefore, in our relationship with each other, we should endeavor to appreciate each other and be thankful for the good things that happen in each other’s lives. Simply put, we should eschew in our lives Cain like attitudes such as selfishness, rage, callousness, wickedness, hatred, stinginess, and jealousy.

Always remember that Jesus loves you!

[Readings: Gn 4:1-15, 25; Mt 8:11-13]

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Ifeanyi Amaobi is from Nkume in Imo State of Nigeria. He is the second Child of a family of seven, three males and four females to Mr. Sylvanus U. Amaobi and Late Mrs Veronica C. Amaobi. He is the Pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Claremore Oklahoma in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Email address: amasylva@yahoo.co.uk. Phone numbers: Office, 9183412343.

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