Am I my sister’s keeper?
Notwithstanding sin and disobedience, humankind is blessed, blessed with the continuation of human life. The species survives its offence against God; but has yet to beat its ever-so-mean-streak.
Cain is not happy that Abel’s offering seems to find favour over his. I do not believe that it really has to do with fat. That might well be the understanding of a fat obsessed culture that judged meat eating vastly superior and understood that God was to get the very best. I, who have hated fat from childhood, am now learning though, from my gastronomy aware son, that the fat in meat is what holds flavour. However, as Dominicans would say chou poule! We should know by now that God’s taste is not at all identical to ours, and it can be unwise to make judgements that involve equating the divine with our predispositions.
Abel’s offering is better, for whatever reason; maybe the underlying motives are just purer. God Almighty is entitled to choose. If Cain was not like me – ever so foolish and selfish in one go- he’d have simply listened to God and straightened up and tried to discover exactly what God wanted from him.
Instead, he does what I might just have done in his position, gets vexed with his brother over whom he has some power, to detract from his anger with God. He gets his brother out of the way.
The only good effect of exterminating the one whom you blame, the one whom you’re jealous of, is that it might leave you to face your bare self, if only you will.
When we are reflective and hear our brothers’ and sisters’ blood crying from the ground for all the injustices that we have committed against them, do we realise that it’s time to seek God’s pardon. [brings Zachaeus to mind] Then and there, we are still reachable. God said, “Whoever kills Cain [the murderer] will suffer a sevenfold vengeance”.
The truth is that through thick or thin, good or ill, we are expected to remain our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Yes, we are expected to look out for each other, even the ones we’re vexed with. I should probably have written “especially the ones we’re vexed with.” These are probably the ones concerning whom God will ask, “Where is your brother/ sister?”
Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other’s cross to bear,
May we our friendly aid afford,
And show that we do care.
Charles Wesley 1707-88