What world do you live in that you don't see these things?
Jesus asks uncomfortable, even embarrassing questions, says Pope Francis. And just like Cain, sometimes our response is to try to escape God’s searching gaze.
The pope reflected on Cain and Abel and Jesus’ difficult questions during this morning’s Mass in Casa Santa Marta.
For example, the Holy Father said, Jesus asked uncomfortable questions of Peter, when three times, he challenged him, “Do you love me?”
The Lord also asked these difficult questions of the Apostles, such as, “Who do people say that I am … and you, who do you say I am?”
“Where is your brother?” was an uncomfortable question for Cain.
And we ourselves know many answers to these types of questions, the pope observed. Well, it’s his life; I respect his decisions; I wash my hands; I don’t get involved in other people’s lives; everyone is free to choose his own path …
“We respond a little with these generic principles that don’t say anything and yet say everything,” the pope said, “everything that is in the heart.”
“Where is your brother?”
“I don’t know.”
“But your brother is hungry.”
“Yes, yes, undoubtedly the Caritas office at the parish is giving him lunch. Yes, surely someone is giving him food.”
And with this answer, this pledge, I save my skin.
“No, the other one. The sick one.”
“Surely he’s in the hospital.”
“But there is no space left in the hospital. And does he have his medicine?”
“But that’s his problem. I can’t butt into other people’s lives … he surely has relatives who get his medicine to him.”
And I wash my hands.
“Where is your brother, the one in prison?”
“Oh, he’s getting what he deserves. He did it; let him pay. We’re tired of so many delinquents on the streets. Let them pay.”
But you never heard that answer from the mouth of the Lord. Where is your brother? Where is your brother who is exploited? …
The pope said that we must hear these “embarrassing questions” directed to each of us personally.
We must insert our brothers’ names that the Lord lists in Matthew Chapter 25: the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the one who doesn’t have clothes, that small brother who can’t go to school, the drug addict, the prisoner … where are they? Where is your brother in your heart? Is there a place in your heart for these brothers and sisters? Or do we just talk about people, that yes, and calm our consciences a bit by giving alms?
“We are accustomed,” the pope insisted, “to give answers with pledges, answers to escape the problem, to not see it, to not touch it.”
Hiding from our brother means that we begin to live in darkness, and then “sin is crouching at the door, waiting to get in and to destroy us.”
We must ask ourselves another of those uncomfortable questions: The one God asked Adam: “Adam where are you?”
And Adam hid out of shame and fear. Hopefully we also might feel this shame. Where is your brother? Where is he? What world do you live in that you don’t see these things, this suffering, these sorrows? Where is your brother? … Where is he?
Don’t hide from reality. We must respond with openness, fidelity and joy to these questions of the Lord.