“Adam, where are you?” Cain, where is your brother?”
These two questions, one posed to Adam after his disobedience and the other to Cain, after killing his brother, are also asked to us by God, the Pope said during his homily at an open-air Mass celebrated on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Pope Francis traveled to the island, located roughly 75 miles from Tunisia, in what was a somber, penitential visit, focusing his attention on the thousands of African migrants who enter Italy through Lampedusa in search of a better life. Of the many who have made the treacherous journey to the Italian island throughout the past several years, an estimated 20,000 have lost their lives at sea. Prior to his arrival, the Holy Father laid a wreath in the middle of the ocean to commemorate those who have perished.
The two questions asked by God, the Holy Father said at the beginning of his homily, echo today more than ever. They are questions that call to mind one’s inattentiveness to those who suffer around us. When humanity loses its bearings, the results are tragedies like the countless men, women, and children who died at sea.
“Where is your brother?” His blood cries out to me, says the Lord.” the Holy Father said citing the first reading. “This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God!”
The Pope however took the opportunity to thank the citizens of Lampedusa for their solidarity in the sufferings of those migrants. Recalling an earlier conversation with an African immigrant, the Holy Father told the faithful of the plight many suffer at the hands of traffickers and those who exploit their poverty.
“Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters,” the Pope stressed. “We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves: “poor soul…!”, and then go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged.”
The Globalization of Indifference
The Holy Father warned of a culture of comfort that makes one think only of themselves and become deaf to the cries of those suffering, resulting in a “globalization of indifference.”
“In this globalized world,” the Pope said, “we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!”
The fruits of this globalized indifference, he stated, has robbed all of the ability to weep for the suffering of others, comparing that indifference to the seed of death sown by Herod in order to protect his own comfort, or what the Holy Father referred to as “his own soap bubble.” The Pope prayed that God would remove “the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts” as well as for “the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts.”
Concluding his homily, the Holy Father emphasized the penitential aspect of the day’s liturgy while asking God’s forgiveness for “our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters.”
“Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts,” the Pope prayed. “We beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies. Forgive us, Lord!”
“Today too, Lord, we hear you asking: “Adam, where are you?” “Where is the blood of your brother?” Pope Francis concluded.
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