Rev. Mark E. Whitlock II
By Rev. Mark E. Whitlock II, Senior Minister Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church
Who is taking care of the hopeless, hungry, homeless, and helpless suffering souls this holiday season? Who is taking responsibility for sharing a kind word, loving the least, and hugging hurting brothers and sisters?
Who is taking responsibility for young people, seniors, widows, and orphans? Whose heart cries out . . . I take responsibility!"
In the sacred Hebrew writ, the lives of the sons of Adam and Eve are forever ruined. It's a story about accepting responsibility for sin. The Bible shares the tension between two brothers offering gifts to God, but God showed a preference for Abel's offering, whereupon, in a fit of jealousy, Cain killed his brother and became the first murderer in history.
When asked by God following the murder, Cain says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And to this God replies, "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground!" (Gen. 4:9-10)
Cain failed to take responsibility. God banishes Cain from the family, but first a sign is placed on him, ‘the mark of Cain.' The sign was not designed to label him a murderer, but to protect him from being murdered.
We pray no one has to wear ‘the mark of Cain' for failing to take responsibility for his or her sin. God raises the existential question, ‘Where is your brother?' We have so many fallen brothers and sisters who are victims of a fallen economy, government, corporate greed, and a general failure to take care our brothers and sisters.
What are we doing to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and provide housing for the homeless? Isn't it a sin that we have failed to take responsibility for the fallen? Churches and non-profit corporations are doing their part to serve the hungry, but God did not ask religious institutions or non-profit corporations to take responsibility for caring for the community. God holds every person responsible for caring for our brothers and sisters.
There have been so many people casting stones at the Occupy Movement. The stone throwers have called Occupiers modern day hippies, useless fanatics, unemployed crazy people, and liberal lunatics. The Occupy Movement may have no singular focus, but they are bringing new light to the problem of people living without dignity, without jobs, below the poverty line, and with no proper resources to survive.
The gap between the poor and wealthy is forever widening. We live in a nation offering hundreds of thousands of dollars for well-manicured ‘pretty people' to participate on reality television game shows. The reality is that less than one percent of one percent of America's population benefits from the money earned from these ‘non-reality' television shows.
Wall Street continues to rake in enormous financial profits. The compensation disparity between corporate executives and hourly workers is widening. Corporations and the rich are still not being taxed fairly. The government is still cutting programs for the poor. Yet, some conservative people are throwing stones at the protesters crying out from the ground for help.
Jesus raises the question of accepting responsibility. "Who will cast the first stone? In as much as ye have done unto the least of these my Brother, ye have done unto me." (Matthew 25:40)
Repeat after me: "I am my brother's keeper!"