I mentioned in a post the other day that I’m reading Christian Salenson’s Christian de Cherge: A Theology of Hope. It is a book I will be sitting with for quite some time.
In his 1995 Holy Thursday homily, de Cherge used what is, for me, an extraordinarily powerful phrase, changing one word of a well-known line form the prologue of St. John’s Gospel. De Cherge preached:
The Word was made brother, the brother of Abel and also of Cain, the brother of Isaac but also of Ishmael, the brother of Joseph and of the eleven others who sold him into slavery, the brother of the plain and the brother of the mountain, the brother of Peter, of Judas, and of the Peter and the Judas within me.
The Word was made brother. What a powerful reminder of our universal fraternity! In a Lenten retreat that same year, de Cherge sayd that “in community we refer to the mountain dwellers, those who are called terrorists, as ‘the brothers of the mountain,’ and the armed forces we call ‘the brothers of the plan.’ It is a way of remaining in fraternity.”
This is one of those truths that we need to be constantly reminded of. If Jesus is my brother, he is also brother to every other person – those who commit horrendous atrocities as well as those who walk with love. And the brothers and sisters of my brother are my brothers and sisters – those who commit horrendous atrocities as well as those who walk with love.
De Cherge understood (better than many of us, given the conditions he lived under) that the challenges to fraternity are great. But he also understood that we are all of our brothers and sisters keepers and that love and prayer must be our way of being toward all.