M.A. Leo Anand S. J.
Pope Francis has recently brought out two significant documents: one on ecology and another on human brotherhood. “A person is either your brother / sister in faith, or your equal in humanity” (Imam Ali). There are two perspectives here but the focus and end are the same- unity. Fraternity in faith perspective leading to unity and fraternity in humanitarian perspective leading to unity. To be a brother/ sister means to belong to the same family i.e., from the same biological roots- one human family.
The best example of sharing of brothers in faith is found in the Acts of the Apostles 4:32 where the early Christian community were “one heart and soul and held everything in common”. There was no division or disparity. We see a lot of Charitable work done by various groups- religious and secular, to safeguard humanity and to include the suffering humanity because they realize them as their own.
What blinds us from seeing them as our own?
In humanitarian perspective, lack of concern towards a fellow human can be termed a disgrace against someone who is part of us. It is selfishness and greed that alienates and brings in division among the human family. “Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4 :1–14) was the response of Cain to God after killing his own brother. Division and lack of concern can occur within one’s own family, by not only alienating one’s own familial ties, but also going to an extent of harming and exterminating in physical and social realms.
Lack of concern for the other, starts from the self-centredness. In the faith perspective, a person who loves God and hates (loving less) a brother is termed: a liar (1 John 4:20), walking in darkness (1 John 2:11), and a murderer (1John 3:15), and God’s love does not abide in a concernless person (1 John 3:17). It is an act of Apostasy (public denial of faith) and hypocrisy (professing what one does not believe in).
In Indian scenario we see unity in diversity as the norm of life. Nowhere in the world we can see such a diverse population in terms of faith, language and culture. Diversity is not a divisive feature but we have learnt to live in harmony and appreciate and celebrate the differences in spite of the differences in racial, linguistic, religious and social beliefs.
The most important disparity is based on the stark economic divide which separates people as the upper, middle (upper and lower) and the lower classes irrespective of faith and humanitarian concern.
During the time of pandemic, we are getting vaccinated to protect us from Covid 19. Let us be convinced of unity, as a virtue and value, which is the greatest vaccine against all divisive viruses- evil and crime (1 Cor 1:10- let there be no division among you).
With the exponential growth of digital revolution, which are making things possible extremely quickly, let the brotherhood in faith with unity (Ephesians 4:1–6- unity of Spirit in Faith) and concern for others be globalized; and let disparity, fundamentalism and communalism be destroyed for the integral overall well-being of the human family. Let us all be ONE (John 17:21).
About the Author:
Fr. M. A. Leo Anand SJ, is a naturalist and eco enthusiast. He has done his Licentiate in Spiritual Theology and directs one-month Retreats and does Spiritual animation for Priests, Religious and Laity in India and now he guides the parish community at Tirumanur.