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AM I MY BROTHER'S OR SISTER'S KEEPER?
Account of Genesis: Cain and Abel
23rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
The very basic question that we have to answer this Sunday is this: AM I MY BROTHER’S OR SISTER’S KEEPER, AND WHY YES OR NO? The main thought of this Sunday’s readings is about the impact of our membership in the Church especially to our “private” lives. Being a member of the Church means that we belong to a community of brothers and sisters in Christ. On this regard, let us reflect on these very important points from our readings:
First, WE ARE OUR BROTHER’S/SISTER’S KEEPERS. Oftentimes, we give too much emphasis on our private lives that we tend to think that other people have no right in any way to intervene with it. But Jesus emphatically affirms that we are our brothers’/sister’s keepers, and we have the serious obligation to correct others. Have we offered advice and encouragement to our friends and neighbors and co-workers when it was needed, and loving correction in private where that was possible? It is a fact that a great degree of indifference to religion shown by today’s young people is due to lack of parental/fraternal guidance and example.
There was a grandmother celebrating her golden wedding anniversary who told the secret of her long and happy marriage. She said, “On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of marriage, I would overlook.” A guest asked the woman what some of the faults she had chosen to overlook were. The grandmother replied, “To tell you the truth, I never did get around to making that list. But whenever my husband did something that made me really mad, I would say to myself, “Lucky for him that’s one of the ten.” For sure this grandmother did not simply overlook the faults of her husband, but rather in her own patient ways, has reminded the guests that any relationship could not reach a point of understanding simply by fault-finding. As Gandhi once puts it, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way!”
Second, JESUS ASKS US TO GATHER IN HIS NAME AND THROUGH IT WORK WONDERS. This simply tells us that together we can do something; together we can accomplish our roles and duties as Christians. Like what I constantly say, WE ARE THE CHURCH and TOGETHER WE CAN! If, as a group, we gather, work and act with the Holy Spirit guiding us, we will become much more than simply the collective number of people we are. One in Christ, our community can use God’s power to make His healing, life-giving love more effective among His people.
We should always put to mind the communitarian dimension of the Church in all its ministries. In fact, when you go to study the sacraments as principal means of grace, you’ll notice that by its essence the sacraments reflect a communitarian dimension. No sacrament has been established by Christ solely to benefit an individual but rather calls to mind the community into which it is an essential part.
Third, OUR EVERYDAY WORK AS A SIGN OF STEWARDSHIP. As we acknowledge our responsibility towards our brothers and sisters and in a joint action work together for a purpose, it is now much easier for us to relate our day’s work as a sign of stewardship. Too often, we try to dichotomize daily work at home or at the office with what we do in the Church. Stewardship clearly reflects what St. Elizabeth Seton once said, “We must live more that others may live simply.” Does this imply taking our personal work for granted in order to respond to Church needs? NO! For instance, this week you could voluntarily do without some good thing like a soft drink for lunch in order that you could have some money to help an agency that’s devoted to the development of “third-world” nations or alleviation of poverty. In that way, you help people who are in need without necessarily giving up your own personal work but using it in order that other people may live.
Yes, indeed we are our brother’s or sister’s keepers - the very thought of this Sunday’s readings. It is our basic duty as Christians to correct the faults of our brothers and sisters in a kind way and so reach a point of resolution. In so doing, we recognize the importance of living as one community for together we can! Through the working of the Holy Spirit, we can make healing and life-giving love possible. This Sunday as we lift all our prayers and petitions to God, let us offer them to Him together with our faults and weaknesses. We firmly believe that as we acknowledge them, we become more forgiving and caring to our brothers and sisters, and more importantly, we truly become signs and worthy “stewards” of God.