“Then the Lord said to Cain: “Where is Abel, your brother?” And Cain said:” I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis4:9) In Cain’s case, jealousy and selfishness degenerated into the murder of his brother. Adam and Eve sinned against God with an act of disobedience, Cain acted against God and man. Cain envied Abel’s friendship with God, and he became the first killer. This is the main reason the whole of the Ten Commandments can be broken into two-love of God the first three and love of our neighbor the last seven.
As the lessons of Genesis taught, only a society who share a common love that is rightly oriented; first towards God then to our neighbor, can call itself justified in the eyes of God. While believers have no problem with loving God, many are confused about what loving one’s neighbor or being our brother’s keeper means. “Who is my neighbor” many ask. We are our brother’s keeper in the sense of bringing the truth of the Gospel to all of mankind. All of mankind is our neighbor. To love our neighbor means giving him or her the help they need to keep them from excessive physical suffering and disabling spiritual despair. It also means we suffer for people and hope in their ultimate divine salvation. A true believer in God loves his brother and sister and forgives them with a humble and sincere heart. Why should I think I am better than they are? Why should I look down on someone who is having a difficult time? We should always endeavor, therefore, not to turn our own good – and maybe temporary – good fortune to our own detriment.
We are our brother’s keeper when we are called to care for the sick and dying by heroically fighting to save lives-born and unborn-and sometimes in the process losing our own. We put the needs of others above those of our own. When we truly love God joy shows. It beckons us. We want to share it with others. Our joyful happiness radiates, motivates and shines forth to others. That is what love does. It yearns to share itself and bears fruit. As God, who is love, delights in sharing His Love with His creation He says:’ Come share my joy within yourself and outward towards others. In this way also we are our brothers’ keeper.’
We are our brother’s keeper when we bring them to the truth of the Gospel. Today especially, behind all the present “crises”, natural and man-made ,we see a concerted effort on many fronts to deny the truth of the Christian faith,
to persuade us that everything comes to an end after this life, that the hereafter does not exist, that God does not exist, and that there is no reward or punishment for the things that we do or do not do, and therefore it is wise to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ without regard for the suffering of others. The fight for the salvation of souls is the greatest expression of our love for our fellow man. We never stop proclaiming that a loving and merciful God exists and that He is always active in our lives. Faith in the saving power of Jesus gives us hope, and the love of God gives us the strength to struggle and win out over the world, the flesh, and the satanic forces which seek to destroy us.
We are our brother’s keeper when we are called to be followers of Jesus and remove every negative comment, every racist joke, every hateful glance and every other form of anti-Christian sentiment from our hearts. On a larger scale this means resisting every unjust war, every form of economic exploitation and oppression. Anything less represents a failure to acknowledge another person as a human being created in the image of God. We must love one another to help one another. As Christians, those who believe in God “see” God, we hear Him, we follow Him and bring others to do the same. This is how we prevent ‘fault lines’ from occurring in our faith. Faults become habits, habits become vice, vice becomes sin and sin leads to death.
As Knights of Columbus our principles are rooted in the Gospels-not in partisan politics or godless ideologies-especially in the virtue of charity. Our Order’s charitable work uplifts the faithful by spreading the ‘good news’ in word and deed. We spread the faith by living the faith primarily through our charitable work; a charity that bears witness to the Gospel by helping those in need, whoever they are, and whatever their need. In this way we are indeed our “brother’s keeper”!
Wendell Jeanpierre, Lecturer. March 1,2021