Brothers and sisters
In the word ‘brotherhood’ the desire resounds to be people who are there for each other. We wish to be people who are attentive towards each other, who can share their sorrows and their joys. People who care for each other and want to live in one house. People who wish to serve and to support each other.
Yet brotherhood goes beyond being a loving community in your own circle. We can also be a brother or sister towards people we do not know, and express solidarity towards them. The awareness of brotherhood thus may become much wider and more comprehensive, growing towards universal, worldwide brotherhood. ‘All people are our brothers’, as an old and well-known song proclaims.
The ideal of brotherhood is challenging and not without consequences. Being brothers and sisters means: to respect each other and realize that we are each other’s equal. The ideal of brotherhood and sisterhood also implies that there is hope for a peaceful and honest society.
The ideal of brotherhood does not only have political aspects, but also religious dimensions. Inspired by ancient biblical stories, we may envision a world of brothers and sisters and work together on making it possible. Regardless of the violence around us, we may believe in a world of justice and in the possibility of working towards it.
An ancient biblical ideal
To see each other as brothers and sisters is an old religious tradition we share. From the very beginning, the words ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ have been used by Christians as a way to address each other. Jesus told his disciples: try to have a truly brotherly/sisterly love for one another. Which means: accept to be together and try to share what you have received. Being the oldest, look after the younger ones with love, and being the youngest, care lovingly for the elderly. Be aware that you are part of one single large family, and that we are all children of one single Father. Responding to the question who truly is our brother and sister, Jesus said: all people who live in accordance with God’s word. Just look carefully around, and you will immediately see to whom you can be a brother or sister. And pay special attention to people who are vulnerable, to those who are forgotten or might get lost: yes, those are our brothers and sisters!
Openness and hospitality
The ideal of brotherhood has much in common with the ideal of mercy. Being brothers and sisters signifies the desire to build a community together. But it also refers to the desire to open this community and receive others in a hospitable manner.
Brotherhood is an important Christian value, but it does not mean that there is always peace and harmony between brothers and sisters in a Christian community. Brotherhood is far from easy to practise in daily life. We do not choose our brothers and sisters, we receive them as they come and have to learn how to get along with them peacefully.
Biblical stories give ample examples of conflict and jealousy among brothers and sisters, and also among the disciples of Jesus and the apostles in the early Church. But there also is the proclamation: do try to give each other that brotherly/sisterly love. Try to accept the enormous differences that may divide people. After the perhaps unavoidable conflicts, always try to come to peace and reconciliation.
Opening up new horizons
Being brothers and sisters is a difficult but also joyful ideal, that breaks down barriers and pushes back frontiers. We notice that also in our international CMM communities. In its essence it is quite simple: we see it as a kind of solidarity we are granted and which in turn we grant to others. It is also quite a radical principle, as is stated in our Rule of Life: Jesus Christ came to break down the barriers which keep people separated from each other. We live this reality in a group of brothers, in which differences in descent, nationality, taste, character, work and social status may not cause any division. By living in this way we proclaim that we have become brothers of one another in Christ.
Brotherhood is an ideal we can work on. We try to make it a real practice in our international communities. And it also has a central place in our international youth project ‘Ambassadors of a Worldwide Brotherhood’.