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  LIFELONG LEARNERS

Brother’s Keeper, Anyone?


Genesis 4:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;[a] and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.
* * *

Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. It was an extreme case of sibling rivalry. Abel was unaware of Cain’s jealousy and murderous intent. Abel went down without a fight.
Then Cain left his brother’s bleeding body in the field as if nothing happened. But God knew what had happened. God’s question, “Where is Abel your brother?” was not an innocent question. It was a direct accusation. It was also an opportunity for Cain to plead guilty and atone for his sin.
But Cain was so consumed by murderous jealousy and hatred that pleading guilty was farthest from his mind and soul. So he answered the Lord arrogantly, conceitedly, proudly, superciliously:
“I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Did Cain know that it was God Almighty who was speaking to him? Did he know that he could not hide anything from God?
Would I recognize God if He spoke to ME right now and asked me, “Where is your brother?” What would I say?
Does “brother” literally mean a male sibling? How about my sisters? My cousins? My nieces and nephews? My grandkids? My friends? Strangers? People of different color, culture, beliefs?
Let me share with you a running conversation I have with God about a brother of mine:
GOD: Where’s your brother?
ME: Which one?
GOD: The one who’s very special to me – the lost sheep.

ME: Oh, I should have known. You’re always looking out for the last, the least, and the lost.
GOD: Well, where’s your brother?
ME: I’m sure You know where he is, where he has been, and where he will be?
GOD: I would like him to be with me, but that is his choice to make.

S-i-l-e-n-c-e.

GOD: Where’s your brother?
ME: Lord, I honestly don’t know why You are asking me that question. I don’t know how to answer it. But I’d like to tell You how confused I feel about the lost sheep that You are looking out for. I am tired of looking out for him.
GOD: I see. You’re tired. Have you ever wondered if I get tired of listening to YOUR appeals for mercy?
ME: No, never. I believe that You are God Almighty and your ocean of divine mercy is fathomless.
GOD: If I appealed to your limited cup of human kindness, would you deny me?
ME: How could I deny You?
GOD: Where’s your brother?
ME: He has been released from a drug rehab facility. He’s jobless.
He’s been drinking with his alcoholic friends. He could find himself a job. He’s got skills. But he depends on his wife’s meager income from sewing, his son’s small remittance, and dole-outs from other relatives.
GOD: Why are you tired of looking out for him?
ME: It isn’t just me, Lord. My other siblings who have always helped him in many ways are also tired. Perhaps, helping him out isn’t doing him any good. Perhaps, we are enabling his addictions, his indolence, his irresponsibility, his pride, his lack of guilt, his lack of repentance.
GOD: So you are joining the bandwagon of tired donors with “donor fatigue.” Donors who do nothing but give dole-outs out of their throw-away goods.
ME: Lord, you know that I give out of my own poverty.
GOD: But you never want, do you? You are never poorer because of what you give.
ME: Lord, my faith falters, sometimes. I keep praying to you to help my brother find his way back to the fold. But he remains outside – proud, angry, and still addicted. But when he needs money, he has the nerve to ask as if he was collecting a debt.
GOD: Your faith falters. That’s the problem. Last week, while you were travelling in the midst of a thunderstorm, you prayed for the rain to stop upon reaching your destination. Did the rain stop?
ME: Father, it wasn’t raining at all when I arrived.
GOD: Did I answer your prayer?
ME: Yes, Lord, I was amazed!
GOD: Did it make your faith stronger?
ME: Yes, Lord.
GOD: If your brother is praying right now for a little help, say for a meal, who has the earthly means to send over some money to him, you or Me?
ME: Lord, it is me.
GOD: Will you do it?
ME: Out of gratitude for you, Lord. As an act of mercy. As an act of faith.
Forgive me for my little faith.
GOD: You are forgiven. Remember that the Son is the Good Shepherd.
His goodness and love will be with you all your life.



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