Mary Anne Cronican
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 3: 9). This question has been asked since the beginning of recorded history and is still being asked today. It encompasses many aspects of human relationships and associations throughout our lives. To begin, the question must be asked, “Who is my brother?” As Christians, we believe that all creatures are related to each other since we have one Creator and were created in love. Love, the foundation which makes us brothers and sisters in the person of Christ Jesus. If love is to exist, then concern for each other must follow. Love demands that we not only care for ourselves, but also are concerned with the welfare of others.
Concern begins first with our families. A family unit, in the light of Christian principles, is a unit of love and care, of giving and concern, of upholding and forgiving. We are told in Sacred Scripture to correct albeit with love, those who are walking in error or are living a life contrary to the Christian way. Too often, readiness to criticize and accuse is more prevalent than the approach of love and real concern. If we cannot help those we love by gentle correction and encouragement, we must pray for them and ourselves to remain in the love and care of our God.
Often, in the workplace, we encounter peers who are laden with problems and difficulties. Are we to ignore these opportunities to help thinking, “It’s none of my business”, or should we reach out with concern and love in an attempt to relieve the suffering which is being expressed.
Opportunities exist regularly in daily life to be of service to one another. As Christians, we are called to be servants to one another if we are to enter the
. Some are able to leave home for missionary and relief work in far lands, yet within our own world, in our own lives, we are given the opportunity by God to be a servant to our fellow man. Building homes for those who are struggling, helping to feed the poor by working in soup kitchens, clothing those who are in desperate need, counseling those who enter our lives and present a need for understanding and guidance, visiting the sick, helping our elderly brothers and sisters when loneliness sets in and limitations prohibit them from performing normal daily activities and even visiting those in prison—virtual prisons or the prisons of loneliness and depression. Those who are walking in the ignorance of our God are to be shown love and concern and presented with an invitation to learn and know what has been done for them and Kingdom of God
for all humanity by the loving action of Jesus Christ. Fear or reluctance must not prohibit us from proclaiming the Gospel to our brothers and sisters.
Above all, we must care for our fellow creatures by praying for them. In Christian charity we are called to pray for the building up of the Body of Christ, for conversion and in reparation for sins—including for those living and for the dead.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy require us to truly be “our brother’s keeper” and to show Christian charity to them. In doing so, we, ourselves, become more Christ like and are transformed into selfless individuals. In order for a society to be transformed, each individual must be transformed. Being concerned with only ourselves will not bring about this transformation. The fabric of society, the soul of society cannot be changed unless we, the body of Christ live as people of the beatitudes and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. God’s great mercy is expressed on this earth in the prayers and actions of human beings who strive to live according to the teachings of Jesus. If we are concerned with the condition of the world, we must change the condition of ourselves. In focusing on the needs and concerns of others in a most loving way, we understand that we are truly “our brother’s keepers”.