Fr John Ikundu MCCJ

I feel that the interpretation of the parable of the good Samaritan by Pope Francis outlines that Fratelli Tutti is a mission proposal. The bandits along the road are not only those who physically attacked the wounded person lying at the road. Those who pass by leaving the person to go through life as an outcast (FT 68), those who are indifferent of the sufferings of the victim are also bandits along the road. This is new in the interpretation of this biblical pericope. The message is that vis-à-vis human sufferings there are two categories of people, those who give a hand and the others who do not care (FT 70). Regardless our religion, we are called to choose human fraternity as a motivational ground for our solidarity and relationship.

This reading of the passersby as perpetrators may sound as a harsh judgment but it echoes well the idea expressed in the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. The brothers of Joseph in their design to eliminate him agree on what to tell their father that some wild animal has devoured Joseph… (Gen 37:20). They are ironically giving a negative descriptive image of everyone who decides to get rid of a fellow human being.

Although biblical references to stories of brotherhood portray a rather delicate field of conflict, fraternity emerges as a clearly divine plan right from the very beginning. It is presented as one of the foundational and corner stones for a nation. Actually, the nation of Israel as willed by God is founded on twelve brothers, the sons of Jacob.

Pope Francis says that the meeting between him and the Great Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyib was one of the inspirational experiences behind this encyclical letter(FT 5). To any one conversant with the reality of Chad, the mention of this encounter brings to fore the big challenge of narrowing the gap between the north conceived as Muslim and the Christian south. Interreligious dialogue is a real mission priority in Chad, but it remains yet to be well strategized and formulated in our annual pastoral planning. We are yet to take courageous decisions in order to fairly equip ourselves fully in this field.

I think it would not be wrong to say that the spirit behind the whole of this encyclical letter is well summed up in Ps 133,1-How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together! This Psalm underlines that the spirit of brotherhood is of a sacred nature just like the priestly consecration of Aaron.

In a reality of a land locked country like Chad where interdependence, connectivity and mobility are synonymous to survival, Fratelli Tutti is an expression of a deep desire that the dream of a regional and why not a global selfish-less fraternity may become a reality.

In a socio-political context of impunity, corruption, a willed political uncertainty, insecurity, permanent conflict between sedentary farmers and the nomad herders, Fratelli Tutti is a cry for a restoration of social order for us here in Chad. Yes, Fratelli Tutti is a proposal for a new social project based on a strong conviction that we are one. In the light of this, we can rightly say that Fratelli Tutti is a prayer for mutual responsibility and concern for one another. The implicit answer to Cain’s question am I my brother’s keeper finds an affirmative loud response, Yes, you are your brother’s keeper!

In the parable of the prodigal son the elder son addressing himself to his father talks of this son of yours. Heimplicitly tries to negate the relationship that unites the three. But his father quickly comes in reaffirming your brother here (Cf Lk 15:30). This is our mission, to hastily step in and reaffirm human fraternity whenever it is threatened.

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