cropped-20160714t1012-4617-cns-vatican-letter-latin-america_0-1-1.jpgBeing Human Means Caring for Others

By Pope Francis

Isn’t the world we want a world of harmony and peace? In ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

We then wonder: is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty, which fills us with awe, and it remains good work. But there is also violence, division, disagreement, and war. This occurs when human beings, the summit of creation, stop contemplating beauty and goodness and withdraw into their own selfishness.

When we think only of ourselves and our own interests and place ourselves in the center, when we permit ourselves to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when we put ourselves in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict.

This is precisely what the passage in the book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: the man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked, and he hides himself because he is afraid (Genesis 3:10). He is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (Genesis 3:12); he breaks harmony with creation, and begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to disharmony? No, there is no such thing as disharmony. There is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, and fear.

It is exactly in this chaos that God asks the man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother (Genesis 4:9)?” We too are asked this question; it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes the adversary to fight and kill. What violence occurs at that moment! So many conflicts! So many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us!

Even today, we continue the history of conflict between people. Even today we raise our hands against our brother and sister. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests. This attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons. Our consciences have fallen asleep. And we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, and death! Violence and war lead only to death! They speak death! Violence and war are the language of death! Source: Homily for the Vigil of Prayer for Peace (September 7, 2013).

A Prayer for Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!


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Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with members, friends, and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a tax exempt non-profit charitable corporation. All donations support our ministry and our tax deductible. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at May the Lord give you peace!

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