Am I my brother's keeper, am I my sister's keeper?
This question sheds light on the deeper meaning of this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The question is the response of Cain when God asks him: "Where is your brother, Abel?"
We may be tempted to see this National Day as little more than a statutory holiday or an opportunity to get things done around the house. We may not see our direct connection to the countless students and survivors of the residential school system, their families, and their communities. We may ask, "Am I my brother's keeper, am I my sister's keeper?"
Across Canada, today is a chance for us to hear God's question in a new light: "Where is your Indigenous brother, where is your Indigenous sister?"
What is our reply?
We can remain detached, thinking that this is someone else's responsibility. Or we can let ourselves be touched and personally concerned. This is especially crucial for us as Catholics and Christians, since leaders in our Church are among those responsible for these heinous tragedies. What is our personal response to these grave realities? How can our faith help shed light on the path ahead?
When we choose the road of indifference, it only blinds us and cools our hearts. In the face of this national crisis, God is inviting us to walk in the other direction, opening our eyes to the suffering of others, and leading us out of ourselves towards solidarity, healing, and reconciliation. Which path will we choose to take?
The contrast between these two paths is poignantly captured in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37
). Someone asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbour?"
His response introduces us to a man who is beaten and bloodied, suffering because of the wounds he has endured. There are many who pass by, turning their gaze to pretend they do not see. Then someone dares to stop, to let indifference fall away, and to feel personally concerned. He reaches out with his heart and his hands. Jesus tells us: "Go and do the same."
We can hear these words of Jesus with reference to all those who suffer. But right now, today, at this point in our nation's history, we must hear the cry of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. We must open our ears to hear the truth, and we must reach out our hearts and hands to work towards reconciliation.
The journey of truth and reconciliation is long and arduous. There are no quick fixes, and we may not see the impact of our efforts. Money and resources are only one part of the equation. True healing requires much more. Each person heals at his or her own pace, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
As the truth is revealed more and more, we must do our part to meet the survivors, their families, and their communities where they’re at in order to move forward together on the gradual journey of reconciliation. This is how Jesus was with the people he encountered, especially those who were hurting. He reached out to them, listened to them, and walked with them on a path of healing towards a better tomorrow.
Doing our part requires us to make a choice between two very different paths. Will we look the other way, preferring not to see? Or will we let our hearts and hands be opened to reach out to our brothers and sisters?
May the Spirit of our Father and Creator lead us towards healing wounds and coming together as His children. We are our brother's keeper, we are our sister's keeper.