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Where is Abel?
The story of Cain and Abel stands very close to 21st century man. For who cannot be exposed to the prevalence of murderous crimes existing in our society and world without occasionally reflecting back upon the first murder? The narrative of these brothers is symbolic of the relationship between God and man and between man and his brother. Read about the history of God’s dealings with man in your Bible and you will notice that God always intervenes.
And I am not referring only to physical murder for we know that we can commit murder in subtler ways than the physical. Perhaps the mordant lines of Oscar Wilde make this point clearer.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
From all let this be heard
Some does it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with the sword.
There are other ways of murder than the physical. We can kill others’ joy, their spirit, their devotion, their will, their motivation. Whenever we commit a crime, in any of its many shapes, against our neighbor, God wants to know, “Where is your brother?”
To Adam and Eve, after they had eaten from the forbidden tree and attempted to hide, God asked, “Where are you?”
To Elijah, when he fled to Beer-sheba to escape Jezebel, God found him and asked, “What are you doing here?”
To Job, when he began to erratically question the sensibility of his existence, God asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
To Cain, after he killed Abel, God asked, “Where is your brother”
When Cain had done his worst to Abel, he could not get away from God and neither can you; neither can I. God always confronts us. He confronts us in our nakedness, in our ugliness, at our weakest point.
In spite of how it may seem, sooner or later man must recognize that any cruelty to any human being brings us face to face with the judgment of God. Even though it may seem that criminals are getting away, rest assured that when we reach the dead-end streets of our lives, God will meet us there and He will want to know, “Where is your brother?” The voice of God cannot be escaped.
About the Author: Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available soon.
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