We are our brother’s keeper

"Pope Francis calls attention to the vocation of every man and woman to live as brothers and sisters."

In this year’s message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis calls attention to the vocation of every man and woman to live as brothers and sisters.

In Fraternity as the foundation of peace and as the pathway to peace, the pope speaks about the harmful influence of poverty, war, corruption, organized crime and environmental degradation on our ability to live peacefully with one another.  While the obstacles to world peace are communal in nature and difficult to overcome, the message manages to be personal and social, realistic and hopeful.

Francis refers to the biblical story of two brothers, Cain and Abel, to explain the concept of fraternity. In the story, Cain murders Abel, and God holds Cain accountable for his failure to care for and protect his brother.  The pope writes that the story of Cain and Abel illustrates our “profound identity and vocation” to live as brothers and sisters, even as it demonstrates our “tragic capacity to betray that calling.” Despite this capacity to ignore our identity and to deny our vocation, we have an “irrepressible longing for fraternity” which forms us into communities and peoples, and enables us to overcome differences and embrace one another.

Francis explains that the fraternal imperative to live in peace with one another resides in the transcendent fatherhood of God and in the cross of Christ.  God’s “extraordinarily concrete and personal love” for every man and woman is a powerful transformative force that leads to conversion and makes fraternity possible.

Still, fraternity as the pathway to peace is difficult. As Francis realistically notes, fraternity requires “a perennial exercise of empathy, of listening to the hopes and sufferings of others, even those furthest away from me, and walking the demanding path of that love which knows how to give and spend itself freely for the good of all our brothers and sisters.”

While this year’s message for the World Day of Peace sounds quite simple, I consider its implementation quite challenging. In a similar way as God called to Cain, “Where is your brother?”, fraternity calls us to take responsibility for the well being of others, and makes us answerable for our brothers and sisters around the world.

If we are serious about peace, our vocation to live in harmony requires that we step out of our comfortable lives, reassess our attitudes, and then actually do something to help overcome obstacles to world peace.  We may find it difficult to relate to the realities that threaten the lives of so many people around the world, or we may become indifferent to the plight of those whom we do not know. Pope Francis’s message for the 47th World Day of Peace reminds us that without a “lively awareness of relatedness” (and I believe relatedness implies action), peace will remain an unattainable dream.

Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. Contact her at mcewan.lou@gmail.com.

Just Posted

Starbucks baristas in Trail donate $7,000 in tips

Funds will go toward the breakfast program in five Kootenay Columbia elementary schools

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Feeling the heat

What you see: If you have a recent photo to share email editor@trailtimes.ca

Air time at Trail Sk8 Park

The Trail Sk8Park is located near the Gyro Park boat launch

B.C. MP’s climate-change alarmism challenged

Letter to the Editor from Thorpe Watson, PhD, Warfield

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read