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Fr Paddy: Where is my brother?

“Where is your brother?” This is the question that God asks each one of us in our hearts regarding our brother who is sick, in prison or hungry. P

Pope Francis made this reflection recently regarding the fundamental challenge to living a life of faith and suggested that faith without actions of compassion are superficial and lack integrity.    

Pope Francis reflected on the episode of Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis, the Pope explained that all of us at times, like Cain, often attempt to reply to God’s uncomfortable and embarrassing questions with regard to our neighbours.

“What have I got to do with my brother’s life? Am I his keeper? I wash my hands of him….” The Pope explained that Cain, who killed his brother, tries to escape the gaze of God.

Uncomfortable questions

The Pope went on to explain how Jesus also asked such uncomfortable questions.

He asked Peter three times whether he loved Him. He asked his disciples what people said about Him and what they themselves thought about Him. 

Pope Francis said today the Lord asks each one of us some personal questions such as these: 

“Where is your brother who is hungry?” the Lord asks us. And to save our skin, we answer, “Surely he is at lunch with the parish Caritas group that is feeding him.”   

“What about the other, the sick…?” “Oh well, he is in the hospital!” “But there’s no place in the hospital! And did you give him any medicine? ”  

“But, that’s his business, I cannot meddle in the life of others, and besides, he will have relatives who give him medicine.” And so I wash my hands of him.

“Where is your brother, the prisoner?” “Ah, he deserves and is paying for it. We are tired of seeing so many criminals on the street.” 

Perhaps, the Pope said, you never hear such answers from the Lord. “Where is your brother, your exploited brother, the one who works illegally, nine months a year… with no security, no holiday?”

Name and face of a brother

The Holy Father urged each one to put a name to each one of those that the Lord mentions in Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel – the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, without clothes, the little one who cannot go to school, the drug addict, the prisoner – where is he?

The Pope said questions are constantly being asked of us. “Where is your brother in your heart? Is there room for these people in our hearts? Or do we try to calm our conscience by giving some alms?”  

“We are accustomed,” he said, “to giving compromising answers in order to escape from the problem, not to see the problem, not to touch the problem”.

Pope Francis said that unless we put names to the list in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25, we will create ‘a dark life’ for us with sin crouching at our door, waiting to enter and destroy us.

Matthew 25:35-40 

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger and you invited me in.
I needed clothes and you clothed me.
I was sick and you looked after me.
I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The Lord will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Perhaps we don’t notice these things, these sufferings, these pains, the Pope said.

He urged Christians not to hide from reality but to answer openly, faithfully and joyfully to the questions that the Lord asks us about our brothers and sisters of humanity.

Holiness of life, is not measured by the amount of prayers we may say but rather our actions of compassion, inclusion and love.

Lord, open our eyes, that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.

Lord, open our ears, that we may hear the cries of the hungry, the cold, the frightened, and the oppressed.

Lord, open our hearts, that we may love each other as you love us.

Renew in us your spirit. Lord, free us and make us one. Amen

SEE ALSO – Fr Paddy: The Weight of the Glass

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Fr Paddy is a curate in the hugely vibrant Portlaoise Parish. From Carlow town, he was educated in Carlow CBS and studied Business and Politics in Trinity College Dublin before training to be a priest in Carlow College. He is the youngest priest in the Kildare & Leighlin diocese and writes for a number of media outlets. He has almost 14,000 followers on Twitter.