God has brothers and sisters

Siblings in the Bible - between strife and love

"Shall we share fraternally?" - "No, better just." Having siblings is very charming. And sometimes just lovely. Every family constellation can be heaven and hell on earth rolled into one. The Bible tells astonishingly ruthlessly about the conflicts that can arise among sisters and brothers.

It’s getting off to a tremendous start. On the very first pages of the Bible, Cain slays his younger brother Abel. But it's also tricky. You have the same parents. You start under what seem to be the same conditions and yet have so different successes. Cain is farming, a future technology from back then, while his little brother is simply a shepherd. But no matter how innovative Cain is. Abel's sacrifice alone finds grace with God. Recognition is a precious subject among siblings and is usually distributed unfairly. One gets it as a gift. The other can do what they want - they get nothing.

Striving for attention

"You're just jealous," says a mother to her three-year-old, who is bursting with jealousy because his newborn brother is praised for every babble. That's right, you can be jealous of your sister and brother. But that too is a feeling that needs to be coped with just as much as joy or affection.

Dispute space

Twins, whether monozygotic or dizygoti, are a case of their own. Never alone from the womb. There is always someone there who you can either rub or warm yourself. Esau can tell you a thing or two about that. His little twin brother Jakob was on his heels from birth. This is how he was born: He held Esau's heel in his hand. Even then he wanted to take his place. When he grew up, Jacob stole his birthright for a lentil dish and stole his father's blessing, which is actually intended for Esau. Little brotherly or typically brother - as one takes it.

Love - not always distributed fairly

God doesn't seem to mind. On the contrary: Jacob can still cheat and lie so much. He is God's darling. For Esau, hatred remains in his heart, which he himself feels how it makes it bitter. For children in every family there are two great unknowns: the love of their parents, which inexplicably, not always justly envelops one and leaves out the other. And the love of God, the blessing that lies on a life.

The legacy - the material form of attention

"Do you get on well with your siblings or have you already inherited?" That is the bitter reality to this day. It is not just a matter of what wealth parents distribute among their children. It's also about something like the parents' blessing, the attention and love they give to their children. If someone feels set back, the division between the siblings can hardly be bridged. The anger, envy and disappointment run deep.

Own life paths

The story of the twin brothers Esau and Jakob is all the more astonishing. They build their lives apart from each other. They meet again as made men. Jacob offers Esau entire herds of cattle to make amends. But he doesn't want to know anything about the presents: “I've had enough, my brother; keep what you have. ”Esau doesn't need what his brother has. It may be that he played along badly. But his heart doesn't cling to it. Esau knows what his life is blessed with. That releases the cramp and they both cry. By the way, the two didn't live together like one heart and one soul. Esau absolutely wants to accompany Jakob. But Jacob refuses. That his brother has forgiven him is enough for him. Forgiveness must not be overburdened.

Help with a big project

After so much conflict, the Bible gives us a sigh of relief when it comes to a sibling trio that complement each other. Moses is the charismatic type who wins people's hearts. Unfortunately, he is clumsy in speaking. The eloquent Aaron jumps at him for this. He becomes his brother's mouthpiece when it comes to negotiating with Pharaoh about the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Mirjam, the third in the sibling union, ensures the necessary amount of enthusiasm that a major project like the emigration of a whole people needs. When there is a stage victory to celebrate, she takes up the kettledrum and starts the oldest song that is recorded in the Bible: “Let us sing to the Lord, for he has done a wonderful deed; He threw his horse and his husband into the sea. "

Different views and values

In the New Testament there is another triangular story among siblings that lives from difference, but also from solidarity: the sisters Mary and Marta and their brother Lazarus. All three are enthusiastic about Jesus. He's coming to visit. Marta toil and dine so that the distinguished guest is well looked after. Maria doesn't lift a finger. She sits at Jesus' feet so as not to miss any of his words. Martha complains to Jesus. But he rebukes her: “Marta, you are very worried. But Maria chose the good part. "

Marta makes an effort, Maria opens her ears. And Jesus gives preference to the attitude of those who can effortlessly give gifts. Mary and Marta have entered the history of Christianity as symbols for the »vita activa«, being active, and the »vita contemplativa«, the reflection. Both types exist in everyone. Often you take on the role that is still available. The more one does and does, the more likely the other seeks the opposite pole.

Incidentally, the shabbily treated Marta later finds justice. When Lazarus, the brother of the two, died, she spoke to Jesus the confession that is otherwise only ascribed to Peter in the Gospels: "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God."

Kinship and solidarity

Jesus has an unconventional understanding of brotherhood. When he heard that his family was waiting outside for him, he asked: “Who is my mother and my brothers?” He looked around and gave the answer himself: “Whoever does God's will is my brother and my sister and my mother . ”Harsh words. That doesn't sound like "You should honor your father and mother".

Jesus shows a connection that goes beyond consanguinity. His prayer "Our Father in Heaven" commits us to solidarity in brotherhood. All people become brothers - and sisters. Behind this is a lofty ideal that strengthens and transcends the family. People, the children of God, belong together to one colorful family of God.

[Martin Vorländer]