Archive for the ‘Cain and Abel’ Category

Jesus as the Anti-Cain

February 17, 2017

A Reflection on Genesis 4:1-15

Cain and Abel Mosaic in Monreale, Sicily, 12th century.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!


Christ Or Foe? — Monday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

February 15, 2011

Today we recall two brothers who were icons of Christ. I speak of Cain and Abel. (At least, they both started off as images of Christ.)

When Eve conceived and bore Cain, she said, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” We can imagine the New Eve, Mary, saying the same thing. Abel was a keeper of flocks, like Jesus the Good Shepherd. Cain was a tiller of the soil, like Jesus the Sower of the Seed and Reaper of the Harvest. Both Cain and Abel had priestly characters because both offered sacrifices to God.

Imagine how much better the world would have been if these two brothers had lived and worked together in harmony. They would have transformed the whole world, like the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Europe.  Instead, tragically, jealousy, resentment, temptation, and sin led Cain to murder his brother. By this spilling of innocent blood, Abel came to image the future Christ still further, while Cain became a likeness of the Christ’s future enemies; the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees.

For you and I, in the end, it may all come down to this: are we Christ, or are we those who would destroy Him?