2. Am I my brother's keeper?
Memory Verse: "Am I my brother's keeper?" from Genesis 4:9
Gosh, it's tough sometimes to be nice to other people -- especially those we spend the most time with. Sometimes we become angry with our friends or our siblings because we feel like they are getting all the attention. Have you ever been jealous of someone you were close to because you felt people treated them better than they treat you?
It's true that sometimes grown-ups may make mistakes and favor one person over another for a short time -- people (even grown-ups) make mistakes.
But God doesn't make mistakes! God made every one of us. We are all special to God. He doesn't play favorites. If we open our hearts to the Lord, our loving Creator, He will show us right from wrong. He will help us to "love our neighbour". He will help us to be our brother's keeper.
Cain didn't listen to God. Even when God tried to show Cain his mistakes, Cain refused to listen. He lashed out at his brother instead of opening his heart to God. And when God asked him what had happened, Cain made one last attempt to deny everything he'd done. "Am I my brother's keeper?" he shouted desperately before finally realizing his responsibility for everything that had happened.
Maria had just started Grade 2 and was finding school a little bit harder than she had in the past. Her teacher had sent her home with some math problems to complete over the weekend and she'd been struggling to finish them.
The worst thing was that in the past her mom had always had time to help her with her homework. But now that her little brother Rickie had turned 3 he was always getting all the attention.
Rickie ran around everywhere. He stole Maria's favorite dolls and gave them swimming lessons in the toilet. He scribbled in Maria's school library books and got her into trouble with her teacher. He was always shouting or singing at the top of his lungs. And, worst of all -- mom was always so busy looking after Rickie that she never had any time for Maria.
Maria sat staring out her window thinking, "This weekend is the worst one yet. Daddy's out of town on business. Mom and I used to have girl's nights when Daddy was away -- but now we can't even do that. And mom's getting mad at me and Rickie for every little thing. It's so unfair!"
Suddenly, Rickie ran into the room, shouted "hugs Mara! hugs Mara!", and barreled into Maria so hard he almost knocked her over. He gave her a big hug and a sloppy kiss. Maria giggled and started to feel a bit better -- that is, until Rickie jumped up to run out of the room and knocked her math binder off the desk. It wasn't closed and all the sheets fluttered in a mess on the floor.
That was the last straw! Maria picked up the binder and threw it as hard as she could in Rickie's direction. It bounced off his arm and knocked into the lamp in the hallway. The lamp broke and Rickie began to scream. Maria ran into the hallway and grabbed her binder and threw it back onto her desk.
She was just in time! Maria's mother rounded the corner, concern on her face, "What happened?" she asked breathlessly.
Maria shrugged, "I dunno. Rickie came running upstairs. He must have knocked into the lamp and broken it. It's not my job to look after him."
Maria's mom looked at Rickie, her cheeks turning red and shouted, "I can't deal with this anymore. Rickie you go to your room this instant!" And with that she gave Rickie a swat on the behind. Maria had NEVER seen her mother swat Rickie, nor could she remember ever getting a swat.
Maria knelt on the floor and began to clean up her papers. "Serves him right," she thought. "He always makes such a mess of everything."
But the longer Maria knelt on the floor, the worse she felt. She thought about the frazzled look on her mother's face and fidgeted. She listened to the huge sobs coming from her little brother's room and fidgeted even more. She remembered how happy she'd felt when he came running in from nowhere to give her hugs -- almost like he knew she was feeling sad. It wasn't long before Maria, too, had tears streaming down her cheeks.
As Maria knelt, crying, feeling worse than she could ever remember feeling, she heard a hoarse voice whisper, "hugs Mara?" There stood Rickie, arms spread wide, eyes red-rimmed from crying so hard -- a look of concern for her in them that was so genuine it gave her a horrible mixed feeling of guilt and love. Her heart felt like it would burst.
Maria hugged her little brother as hard as she could and cried even louder. Maria's mom came rushing in to see what was the matter this time and Maria poured out the story of what she'd done, how she was feeling about Rickie and how hard Grade 2 was.
The rest of the weekend Maria did as much as she could to help care for her little brother. And she realized that in his own way, Rickie was doing as much as he could to help care for her. With all the help she was getting from Maria, their mom had time to help with the homework.
Maria and her mom put Rickie to bed the night before daddy returned home, popped some popcorn and had a "girls only" pajama party. Maria smiled up at her mom and said quietly, "Life's easier when we all help take care of each other, isn't it, mom?"
"It sure is honey," replied her mom.
"I just wish math was, too!" giggled Maria.