On Brothers and Sisters
On February 18, 2015 Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on the family as he turned to the bond of siblings, which has a particular meaning for the people of God. “Jesus Christ,” the pope said, “…brought to its fullness this human experience of being brothers and sisters, assuming it in the Trinitarian love and expanding it” beyond the lines of kinship and over all obstacles.
The Holy Father used the account of Cain and Abel to talk about the danger of the breakdown of relations between siblings. He mourned that the two questions asked in the account (“Where is Abel, your brother?” and “Am I my brother’s keeper?”) are repeated throughout history. When brothers fight or stop speaking, the pope said: “This is awful!”
“Brotherhood must not be broken,” said Pope Francis. It is a “great thing” and offers something to contemplate: brothers “have dwelt in the womb of the same mother” and “come from the mother’s flesh!” He exhorted us to pray for brothers who are divided.
The fraternal bond is formed in the family, where people learn how to live with others. It is a promise for society.
The pope reflected on the experience of fraternal love in a family where siblings take care of others among them who are younger, weaker, smaller, sick, or handicapped. He said that parents are often in need of such help and those who help take care of siblings in need are generous, and often not appreciated enough.
God, through Christ, expanded this bond of love between siblings and made it “capable of going beyond every difference of nation, language, culture and even of religion.” Pope Francis pointed out the way that we talk about a friend, perhaps: “He is like a brother to me” or “She is like a sister to me!”
Christian brotherhood, then, is an extension of the sibling relationship. “The littlest, the weakest, the poorest must make us tender: they have the ‘right to have our soul and heart,” said Pope Francis. The Lord has shown us that the poor and the weak are our brothers and sisters.
The Holy Father asked for everyone present to be silent and to think of and pray for their siblings.