Prayer for peace

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Memory of Onesimus, slave of Philemon, but brother in faith of the Apostle Paul.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Genesis 4, 1-15.25

The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. 'I have acquired a man with the help of Yahweh,' she said.

She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil.

Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh,

while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. Yahweh looked with favour on Abel and his offering.

But he did not look with favour on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast.

Yahweh asked Cain, 'Why are you angry and downcast?

If you are doing right, surely you ought to hold your head high! But if you are not doing right, Sin is crouching at the door hungry to get you. You can still master him.'

Cain said to his brother Abel, 'Let us go out'; and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him.

Yahweh asked Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I do not know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother's guardian?'

'What have you done?' Yahweh asked. 'Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground.

Now be cursed and banned from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood at your hands.

When you till the ground it will no longer yield up its strength to you. A restless wanderer you will be on earth.'

Cain then said to Yahweh, 'My punishment is greater than I can bear.

Look, today you drive me from the surface of the earth. I must hide from you, and be a restless wanderer on earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!'

'Very well, then,' Yahweh replied, 'whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.' So Yahweh put a mark on Cain, so that no one coming across him would kill him.

Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Seth, 'because God has granted me other offspring', she said, 'in place of Abel, since Cain has killed him.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Since the beginning, human history has been marked by homicidal struggle. This is the story of Cain and Abel—Cain, a strong man tied to the life of the city, and Abel, his brother, a man almost without a name. In fact, in Hebrew Abel means, “murmur,” or “nothing.” His name, his very existence is to be “the brother” of another man. Human beings do not exist without accepting to have brothers and sisters, to live with them, to build a world accepting their diversity. Indeed, the realization of our humanity cannot come without others. Abel was a shepherd, a nomad, not a farmer like Cain. Cain’s sin begins with his rejection of Abel’s diversity. From there springs envy, anger, and the rancour that quickly brings a violent death. In the Hebrew text Cain speaks to the brother, but without pronouncing a word. When he begins to have feelings of envy and anger, when he harbours rancour easily he is not able to speak anymore, he does not want to speak anymore. And so enmity grows to the point of eliminating the other. And here again it is God who intervenes, speaking to the fear and silence of Cain. God asks Cain, “Where is your brother?” as he had asked Adam, “Where are you?” God poses questions. His voice is always a question that asks us to be accountable to our brothers and sisters. God cries for each of us and for this world against every violence and refusal of what is different. “Where is your brother?” This is the worried question of God to a world that accepts violence without being shocked; that thinks war is an inescapable fact, division as a normal part of life. Yes, the voice of the blood of so many innocent men and women, like Abel, screams to God from the earth, because it is from there that we are all taken as brothers and sisters. The Bible affirms that from the beginning we are made as brothers and sisters. There is no woman, no man, no people, and no ethnicity, without others, without those different from us. And when we get used to living for ourselves, without others, we easily put ourselves against others, arriving at enmity. The rejection of the other brings about a world dominated by violence. In Jesus we understand with greater clarity that every human being is our brother and sister because they are children of God, created in his likeness and image. The Church, every community cannot but witness this universality that is so hard to accept and live in the world.