The importance of the bond of brotherhood and of how easy it is for petty jealousies and envy to damage that bond and set off a process that can lead to the destruction of families and peoples.
The Pope was speaking during the homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, a Mass that he offered to Father Adolfo Nicolás, the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus who is preparing to continue in his mission in Asia.
Brotherhood is destroyed by small things
Reflecting on the first reading of the day which speaks of Cain and Abel, Pope Francis said that in this reading from Genesis, for the first time in Bible we hear the word ‘brother’ and we listen to a “story of brotherhood that should grow and be beautiful, but ends up destroyed”.
“A story which begins ‘with a little jealousy’: Cain is irritated because his sacrifice does not please the Lord and he begins to cultivate a feeling of resentment, a feeling he could control but does not” he said.
The Pope said Cain chose to harbor this sentiment and let it grow. The sin he will then commit is crouching within this sentiment. This, he continued, is how enmity between us begins with a tiny spark of jealousy or envy, and ends up growing so much that we see life only from that point of view: “the speck of sawdust becomes a plank in our eye, our life revolves around it and it ends up destroying the bond of brotherhood; it destroys fraternity.”
Resentment is not Christian
Gradually, the Pope said, one becomes “obsessed, persecuted” by that evil that grows and grows.
He said that this leads one to detach oneself from one’s brother turning him into an enemy who must be destroyed. “This enmity, he continued, ends up destroying families, peoples, everything!”
“This is what happened to Cain who ended up killing his brother” he said pointing out that this process must be stopped immediately, at the very first sign of bitterness and resentment.
“Bitterness is not Christian. Pain is, but not bitterness. Resentment is not Christian” he said.
The blood of many people cries out to God from the soil
Taking note of the fact at the Mass at Santa Marta on Monday there were some newly appointed parish priests, Pope Francis urged them to be aware that “even within our episcopal colleagues” there are small cracks and rifts that can lead to the destruction of brotherhood.
When God, he said, asks Cain: “Where is your brother Abel? Cain’s answer is ironic: I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”
Yes, the Pope said: you are your brother’s keeper. And the Lord then said: “your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!”
Each of us – the Pope explained – can say we have never killed anyone, but anyone who has a bad sentiment towards his brother has killed him: “if you insult your brother, you have killed him in your heart”.
And turning his thoughts to those who find themselves under the bombs of war or who are driven from their homes as “they are not brothers” he said the process of killing starts from something small.
“How many powerful people of the world can say: I’m interested in this area, I’m interested in this piece of land… if a bomb falls and kills 200 children it is not my fault, it’s the fault of the bomb. I’m just interested in the land…” he said.
It all begins, Pope Francis said, with that feeling that makes you break away, not recognizing your brother, and it ends in a war that kills.
This, he said, is the process of bloodshed, and the blood of so many people in the world today cries out to God from the soil.
The Pope concluded his homily asking the Lord to help us to repeat His words: “Where is your brother?” and to think of those who “we destroy with our tongues” and of those who “in the world are treated as things and not as brothers, because a piece of land is more important than the bond of brotherhood”.