Today’s first reading from Genesis 4:1ff is the first murder account in the Bible. Afterwards God’s question to Cain is: ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I do not know’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s guardian?’ ‘What have you done?’ The Lord asked. ‘Listen to the sound of your brother’s blood, crying out to me from the ground.
In my few words after the gospel, I referred the killing of Abel to the mass killing of the unborn. If Jesus was to return now, he would ask us to account for what has happened to them. Our accountability is still real even though it is by way of omission rather than commission. Pope Francis has asked Christians to read Matthew 25 during Lent and the punch line in this version of the Final Judgement is that whatever we do or omit for the least of Jesus’ brethren, we do or omit for him.
The words of Elie Wiesel – himself a holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate – are relevant: “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”