"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Richard Huls

READ : Genesis 4:8-15

This is the question in the Bible which I remember most from my boyhood days. In my childhood, we were asked to tell the whereabouts and deeds of others, especially our siblings. To be a brother’s keeper meant responsibility, knowledge, and in some cases, betrayal if I had been asked to keep a secret!

hese questions of God and Cain involve much more than telling on someone. They involve human relationships. God’s coming to Cain and asking him about Abel is a search into Cain’s heart and mind. God knows what has happened to Abel. Cain doesn’t realize God knows. Cain tries to sidetrack him. In contemporary language we might say he was telling God to get off his back about Abel.

The implication of God’s question is far reaching. God confronts us all with the question as to our awareness and responsibility toward our Christian brothers and sisters, and other people also.

In Cain’s case, he knew where Abel was because he killed and buried him. Similarly, we can kill and bury by neglect and indifference the spirit of people who are in our lives. Am I my brother’s keeper? Jesus said, “Yes, love your neighbor.” To love is to know where our brothers and sisters are spiritually, mentally, and even physically in their world.


Lord, help us love people enough to know where they are! Amen.