We Are All Our Brothers’ Keepers

In the book of Genesis, 4:1-13 when Cain murdered his brother, Abel, out of jealousy, the Lord asked him a simple question: “Where is Abel?” Cain, in his anger and fury, responded to the Lord with a simple phrase, one which has entered the lexicon of commonly used expressions to this day: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The answer is a rather simple one and is resoundingly affirmative: YES! We are each other’s keeper, and each of us has a responsibility to care for one another. This is both pro-life and pro-environment.

It is pro-life because we recognize that every human being, from conception to natural death, is created in the imago dei, the image and likeness of God, and, despite the presence of original sin (which is washed away in baptism) and actual sin, which, if we are truly repentant, we can be cleansed of through the sacrament of penance, each person is fundamentally good. No one is a mistake, and all are worthy of love and mercy, both from God and from one another.

Our Lord Jesus Christ opened his arms wide on the cross of Calvary in an embrace of love for each and every one of us. His one, single sacrifice was committed to reconcile the human being to God, God to the human being, and human being to human being. Christ died for all peoples; he is the universal savior and, because of this, we have the responsibility to care for each other, despite race, color, gender, creed, or political affiliation.

This is being pro-life in the fullest sense: engaging the Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give alms to the poor, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.

In 2016, Pope Francis even added an extra Corporal Work of Mercy: “care for our common home,” meaning that we should be environmentally aware. If we are to truly be environmentally aware, then we must realize that we make up each other’s environments. Without giving a child a chance to live, we hurt the very future of the world.

All life has value — the unborn, the elderly, the prisoner, the disabled, the poor, the immigrant. Unless we commit to being completely pro-life in all we say and do, in our actions and in our attitudes, we cannot say we are living up to the mandate of the Lord to “love one another.”

In the lives of our two slain heroes, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, we see the words of the Lord ring true: “Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). In the case of Detective Mora, we see that his love of his brothers and sisters and his desire to serve them extends even to the donation of his organs, giving to save the lives of those whom he doesn’t even know.

This week, as we ponder the sacrifices of Detectives Rivera and Mora, we might wish to consider some quotes by the great spiritual writer, Saint John of the Cross:

“Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.”

“Love is repaid by love alone.”

“In the evening of life you will be examined in love.”

“When you experience something unpleasant, look at Jesus Crucified and be silent.”

And perhaps most fittingly: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”