My Brother’s Keeper

8 Jun

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”  ~ Albert Einstein

I have seen this happen over and over again in my life.  When I was young, I would hear about fights in school.  Everyone who was in the area would stand around and watch, too afraid to do anything about it themselves, and hoping that someone would help the person being beat up.  Oftentimes, no one stepped in and someone was hurt really bad.

The same thing happens in society at large.  How many times have be heard about bystanders refusing to step in to help someone in need.  A lot of times, that person was even screaming for help, only to be left alone.  I remember the Kitty Genovese case.  In 1964, a woman who lived in New York was stabbed to death outside her building.  Many of the tenants heard her cries for help yet no one came to her aid.  Even the police, who were called twice, took way too long to respond.

I was eight years old when that occurred and, hearing about it, I was really frightened by what had happened.  If I needed help, I thought, would anyone come to my aid?  I did not want to go outside for a while after that was reported.  I would say now that it traumatized me.  Maybe that is why I step in as often as I can to help those in need.  I do not want to think that someone would get hurt because of my inaction.

The psychologist who taught a few courses at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary told us once that each of us has to answer the question posed by Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  If we believe that we are, indeed, our brother’s keeper, then the next question we have to ask ourselves is, “How far am I willing to go to help someone in need?”

We were in serious need.  We had turned our backs on God and lost the Kingdom.  We had no hope.  But Jesus Christ, determined to help us no matter the cost, came to our aid and paid the price for helping us by suffering and dying on the cross.  He reminded us that no greater love exists than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.  He called us friend and He laid down His life for us.

Too many Christians try to play it safe.  They do not want to get involved.  They would rather remain on the sidelines.  That is one of the reasons that most parishes have a difficult time trying to get people involved in peace and social justice issues.  At best, most people would rather throw some money at the problem so that someone else does something.  They do not want to volunteer at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, jails and prisons, and other places that cause distress.

If we dare call ourselves followers of Christ — Christians — then we better live what we profess to be.  Jesus would never stand on the sidelines.  He would be front and center in helping those in need.

FAITH ACTION:  After a good amount of time in prayer today, tell the Lord whether or not you are your brother’s keeper.  If you say you are, determine what you should do in order to help those you know to be in need.