Genesis 4:1-15, 25
Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.
Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.”
Psalm 50:1, 8, 16BC-17, 20-21
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
“What right have you to recite my statutes,
or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
You sit and speak against your kin;
you slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
When Cain’s offering to the Lord was not accepted, he became angry. The Lord even pursued him asking him why he was angry. Cain would not answer. God encouraged Cain to try to make a more pleasing offering to him. He then warned him about sin lurking at the door. Cain’s problem was between himself and the Lord, but Cain, undaunted, attacked his brother and killed him. Then, he had to suffer a terrible punishment for the rest of his life. He was to be a fugitive and wanderer on the earth.
It sounds crazy. All Cain had to do was rethink his offering. If he had the tiniest bit of humility, he could have seen that his brother did him no harm and that God had not rejected him. God was close, encouraging Cain to try again. But Cain did not look inwardly. We wonder if Cain ever really wanted to please God in the first place. Killing Abel did nothing to please God. Abel wasn’t at fault. Yet these sorts of crimes happen every day in various degrees.
Siblings become jealous over a brother or sister’s good fortune. They feel that God is playing favorites. Rather than pray to the Lord, the sibling mopes, lashes out, hurts the brother’s reputation, rejects or ostracizes the brother, and in a sense, does violence to the relationship.
Envy is the sadness we experience when we think someone’s gifts or talents outshine our own. It leads to murder faster than anger alone. Cain was the first fruit of the parental fall from grace of Adam and Eve.
In the Gospel, we read about Jesus’ exasperation with the ones who wanted a sign. These are the ones who refuse to look inwardly. They think that God has to bend to their will and please them and not the other way around. It is a simple prideful attitude and a rebellion that can be dangerous to our relationship with God and man.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask you to help me to recognize envy when I feel it. If someone’s talents or blessings make me feel less, may I remember to stop and bring those feelings to you. I thank you for the gifts of others because they all come from you and glorify you. May I always seek to please you in my attitudes, glorify you in my life and be grateful for the good things that others receive. Amen