“Yahweh asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’. ‘I do not know’, he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s guardian?’” (Gen 6:9).
Haven’t we all heard this verse from the Genesis? Recently and frequently for some or it simply resonates at the back of our head, out of a childhood doctrine lesson or the idle Sunday reading in church. But have we ever really pondered on God’s awkward query to Cain and tried to understand the baggage it bestows on us? Well, for sure I hadn’t until recently. Thanks to St George’s Parish’s latest pastoral project, focusing mainly on this question, I gave myself time to reflect… Is God asking me this very same question and how am I reacting to it? Am I playing naïve? Am I being on the defensive? Am I trying to avoid and elope? Or am I simply being arrogant enough to assume that God created the beauty of the world I am living in, just for me to use and abuse; to judge my brother to the point of deciding who should be quenched and fed; welcomed from afar; given shelter and protection; buried in dignity; offered solace in sickness and visited in jail! In all honesty I envisaged myself in all four scenarios at some point or another, throughout my life’s experiences. Can you?
Jesus Christ, the best picture of selfless love, one can ever come up with, through His teachings, but above all, through His whole short-lived life on earth, made it all very clear for us. “You must love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:31). And by neighbour he never meant our loved ones. It doesn’t take much to return care and respect to whoever loves us and treats us well. The true challenge is to accept, love and commit ourselves to the well-being of those who hurt us or the society in general. To forgive and give a second chance to those, who for some reason or another are not as privileged as ourselves and don’t know any better, than to steal and harm. Welcome without prejudice, all those who were born in war inflicted, famished, corrupted countries and are now trying to possess and impose their rights in our tiny island. Mourn and pay our respects to those unclaimed bodies which are seen as a burden to the government to bury, once their time in the morgue is up. Restore back the dignity of all the prostitutes, who mostly don’t have an alternative to such a degrading job, but are seen as shaming our islands, in the ever increasing number of gentlemen bars. Caring for the self-inflicted HIV community, in spite of being aware that they can infect our loved ones. Engage in protecting the environment without uselessly judging all the ruthless developers who are raping our greenery and denying our children from fresh, breathable air. These are considered the scum of society, but instead of scrapping them out of our lives, our faith summons us to love them unconditionally and do it with gratitude as it is them, who will save us all from damnation. They are our pathway to true happiness, fulfilment and at the end of the day, eternal life. “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me” (Mt 25:34-36).
Easier said than done but trying doesn’t cost much! This year our parish is proposing a set of commitments related to four out of the eight Acts of Mercy, every confirmed Christian should feel the duty to observe. This initiative’s main intent is to sensitize us all towards the sufferings and needs of the less fortunate communities in our society; whoever we generally find hard to accept as our brother or sister. So far, in fact, our parish is inviting us to ‘visit’ our brothers in jail, through a scheme to financially and spiritually adopt a prisoner and a victim.
Also, last Saturday, during a prayer meeting in the Basilica, to launch and engage ourselves in the second act of kindness for this pastoral year, a fund was opened, for us all to contribute in giving a dignified burial, to unclaimed bodies, left for more than 6 months in the mortuary. Adding on to what the government is already doing in such circumstances, we want to bring these abandoned bodies, who were once human beings, to our Basilica and give them a community who will remember these strangers’ lives, and a promise to keep on praying for their souls. The fund will also cater for regular mass and prayers for abandoned souls who might have no one left in this world to care for them. Prayer books are being distributed freely to whoever joins these initiatives. St George’s Parish is also proposing a two half-day seminar, for whoever would like to volunteer in the bereavement ministry. Led by a team of professionals in the field, this seminar promises to give the participants an insight on the bereavement process and helps them develop skills, through empathy and knowledge, to give comfort and care to whoever longs for some.
Intrigued enough? Are you willing to join this warm project, and let your brothers and sisters out there fulfil your heart with peace and happiness? Make sure you reach out for the two very informative booklets, printed specifically to explain all the details. You can also ask for more information via an SMS to 7999 0234 or via email on [email protected].
“I alone cannot change the world, but I cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” (Mother Theresa).