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, 16-17, 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.

But to the wicked God says: “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.

Mark 8:11-13

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.

(NRSVCE) Meditation

In the Gospel, we can well imagine the total exasperation of Jesus. Jesus is healing the lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons, and teaching about the kingdom of God with authority, yet the Pharisees want a sign.

What sort of mind and heart blindness must a person have to refuse to be won over by the compassion and supernatural power of Jesus? Yet right before him, they possess attitudes of obstinacy as if he can’t see their hearts. They have no shame.

In Genesis, we read about Cain and Abel. Cain, after his sacrifice is rejected, rises up to murder his brother. What sort of mind and heart blindness must one have to offer sacrifice to God one minute, and to premeditate and murder his own mother’s son? Cain wants God to accept his sacrifice but his heart is far from him. His focus is not on what he can do well for God but on what God does to affirm him. The Pharisees are no different.

As we approach Lent, we take the time to look within and see our hearts as God sees them. Can we offer sacrifice with impure hearts? What sin needs to die in me that has the potential to destroy me or my family? It is always a good time to examine our hearts and repent of anything, anger, vengeance, jealousy, ambition, that displeases the Lord so that we can offer a pleasing sacrifice of our lives to him.

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