28 September 2020Genesis 4:1-16
The Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ (v. 9)
Murder, jealousy, family conflict – here we have all of the ingredients for a good soap opera. Indeed soap operas captivate us because there is little need to stretch the imagination to see ourselves in them. Cain killed Abel – we cannot know if there was a real Cain and a real Abel – but for sure one brother has at some point murdered another brother. We may not be sure of the names but there is certainly truth in the events! These could belong in almost any family given the right circumstances.
There is much going on in a simple story:
- Giving to God – do we give the leftovers or the real deal?
- How do we cope when we are told we are not as important as we think we should be?
- What is our response to a sibling who is liked more than we are?
Then we generalise the story. It is easy to say we should care for those who are like us – literally caring for my ‘brother’. But does this mean we are given a burden of care for the whole of humanity?
This simple story challenges us on many levels. We are expected to give the best to God – the most costly. We have a burden of care for those around us. We are expected to take responsibility for ourselves, not blame others for our shortcomings.
- What do I need to give to God to make it ‘the best’?
- How can I best express my solidarity with all of God’s creation?
- Are there any people for whom I have no burden of care?