Archive for February, 2017
A Reflection on Genesis 4:1-15
Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Through Eve, Cain is the firstborn of man. Through Mary, the new Eve, Jesus is firstborn of God.
Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. This implies that Cain is not offering his very best. Jesus’ sacrifice offers everything to God.
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Jealousy and a hardened heart leads Cain to murder his brother in the countryside. Similar wickedness leads to Jesus being murdered by his own outside Jerusalem’s gates.
The Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain is not a keeper of animals, but Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.” (John 10:14)
The Lord God then said to Cain: “What have you done! Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!” The blood that Cain shed cried out to Heaven for vengeance, but “the sprinkled blood [of Jesus] speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24) The blood of Jesus outpoured begs mercy, for the forgiveness of sins on earth.
Cain said to the Lord: “My punishment is too great to bear. Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight.” “Not so!” the Lord said to him. “If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.” So the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight. Cain is given a protective mark (perhaps a tattoo, common in violent nomadic cultures.)
Jesus enjoys no protective distinction: “There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.” Cain was not executed for his crime, but Jesus “was pierced for our sins” and “the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.” (Isaiah 53:2,6) Killing Cain would have returned “seven fold revenge,” but Jesus’ death brings forth multitudes of mercy, as through the seven Sacraments.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the anti-Cain. Praise be to God!
By one count, Jesus asks 307 questions in the Gospels. Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical (asked to demonstrate a point) but other questions insist on a personal response. Below are some of his shorter questions. As you read this list, sense which questions Jesus is asking you today. What is your reply to him?
Why are you anxious about clothes? — Matthew 6:28
Why are you terrified? — Matthew 8:26
Do you believe I can do this? — Matthew 9:28
Why did you doubt? — Matthew 14:31
But who do you say that I am? — Matthew 16:15
What do you want me to do for you? — Matthew 20:32
Why are you testing me? — Matthew 22:18
Could you not watch for me one brief hour? — Matthew 26:40
Why this commotion and weeping? — Mark 5:39
Why does this generation seek a sign? — Mark 8:12
What were you arguing about on the way? — Mark 9:33
Where is your faith? — Luke 8:25
What is your name? — Luke 8:30
Who touched me? — Luke 8:45
Will you be exalted to heaven? — Luke 10:15
Why are you sleeping? — Luke 22:46
Have you anything here to eat? — Luke 24:41
What are you looking for? — John 1:38
Do you want to be well? — John 5:6
Does this teaching shock you? — John 6:61
Do you also want to leave me? — John 6:67
Why do you not understand what I am saying? — John 8:43
Do you believe this? — John 11:26
Do you realize what I have done for you? — John 13:12
Whom are you looking for? — John 18:4
Shall I not drink the cup the Father gave me? — John 18:11
Do you love me? — John 21:16
For more of Jesus’ questions, check out this list.