Am I my brother’s keeper? 

By David M. Carollo –

“Denial of Peter” – El Grecco

When God asked Cain where his brother Abel was, he responded: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Knowing that he had murdered him, motivated by jealousy, God allowed him to contemplate his deed. Cain knew that his action was wrong, but more profoundly, he knew that this act had ramifications far beyond the loss of an individual. The effects of his sin, like that of his parents, would alter history. It is said that Cain, after his exile, wandered, and his evil perpetuated through the generations until the time of Noah and the great flood.

The sin of Adam and Eve defied God and we pay the price of these transgression to this day. The effects of sin are far reaching. It is for this reason that Christ came to earth, to reconcile man with God.

I have often pondered the reality that children suffer for the sins of their parents. It seems totally unfair by our human reasoning, but as Jesus said to Peter when he objected to the revelation of Christ’s suffering to come, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Christ suffered for sins that He did not commit. We also must be willing to suffer for the common good.

On August 13, 1917, the children of Fatima were kept from being at the Cova da Iria for the appearance of Our Lady. Six days later, on August 19, she came to them at Valinhos. Following up from the July apparition, when she showed them the terrible vision of hell, she told them on this August day that many souls go to hell because there is no one one to pray and make sacrifices for them.

Can we save souls by offering our prayers and sacrifices for sinners? Absolutely we can, and we must do this if we hope to obtain mercy for ourselves. She also told them on that August day that the great miracle promised for October would be lesser because of the actions of the administrator and those who took them to prison, causing them to miss their appointed visit with Our Lady. We all suffered for the actions of those officials. 

How much more grace could a greater miracle have brought about? How many more souls would have been converted by a greater event on October 13th? Perhaps many of the horrible events of the 20th and 21st centuries might have been avoided if more people had witnessed a much more profound miracle of the sun. We will never know on this earth.

As we watch the steady decline of our society, we cannot live in a bubble, pretending to be opposed to evil and not take a stand and actively oppose it. We cannot overlook sinful acts and lifestyles that defy the law of God and not oppose these, and even worse, overlook these within our own families and among our friends, in the interest of harmony. Most of us are confronted with the difficult decisions to openly admonish sin in our families, and often we fail in our responsibility to help bring people back to God in order to have a peaceful “Thanksgiving dinner.”

There is no true peace where sin abounds.  Fraternally correcting sin can bring someone back on the path of repentance. In not doing so, we fail to help them correct their ways. The late Mother Angelica once stated, “Those who tell you the truth love you. Those who tell you what you want to hear love themselves.” Correcting others to turn from sin and return to a life of grace is not a condescending judgement, but a fraternal plea to come back to God and to live within the rules that He has established. 

We effect the world by our actions and inaction. We influence others by being the light in the darkness, by being strong through humility, not arrogance. We have been given a gift to better understand our mission in the plan of salvation. We must always remember that it is, in fact, a gift, not a statement of superiority. By acknowledging this, we reflect God in a way that draws others and makes them want to have the inner peace that we strive to possess.  We must show the kindness of Our Lady, which she showed towards those who tortured her Son. She prayed for their wellbeing, not for their condemnation.

Yes, we are our brother’s keeper. If we deny this, we deny the meaning of being a disciple of Our Lady and Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God bless you and Mary keep you in her Immaculate Heart.

David Carollo is the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA/National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. He wrote this for his Voice of Fatima column.

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