6th Week, Monday, Feb 15

 6th Week, Monday, Feb 15

Genesis 4:1-15, 25 / Mark 8:11-13

God banishes Cain; God put a mark on Cain. 

 Ancient slaves were often tattooed or branded with the mark of their owner. Thus, if they escaped, this mark identified them. It also protected them, because a person would think twice before harming the slaves of a powerful owner. This background helps us understand Cain's words to God after he is sentenced to wander forever as a homeless nomad: "Anyone may kill me at sight." Cain refers to the fact that ancient nomads, like ancient slaves, had a mark that identified them as belonging to a tribe. 

The mark served as a kind of protection. Anyone who harmed them would have to answer to their tribe. So, by portraying God as marking Cain, the Genesis writer portrays God as according Cain a kind of merciful protection. 


Is our attitude toward repented criminals different from what God shows here? "Let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body." Galatians 6:17 


Sin, even murder, shows its ugly head right after the loss of paradise. Or does the story express the conflict between two cultures, the sedentary life based on the land (Cain) and the nomadic life of the shepherd Abel? Yet for his punishment Cain becomes himself a fugitive nomad.

In the gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign that his authority came from heaven. But we too look often for signs and reassurances. Are the words of Jesus not assurance enough? Does not faith consist in trusting him? Our sign is the life and the message of Jesus.


The sin of jealousy is sometimes given the imagery of a green-eyed monster. Whether it is green-eyed or not, yet a monster it surely is. Because it makes demands, and it demands utter destruction. It can be someone's project, possessions, reputations or even the life of a person, which is the ultimate destruction. Yet the destruction of humiliation of another person does not benefit us in any way whatsoever. But we fail to see it. All we see is green; all that we become is a monster.

In the 1st reading, Cain failed to see it although God had warned him that his jealousy was like a crouching beast hungering to devour him.

In the gospel, the Pharisees also failed to see their jealousy of Jesus. Their demand for signs was in itself a sign of their jealousy. So it is necessary to check our thoughts, our words and our actions.They are signs to us of what is happening in us.

We need to heed these signs, reflect upon them in our prayer, and with God's grace, we will master the devouring beast and the green-eyed monster of jealousy within us.


    Encountering Christ:

    1. Arguing with Jesus: The Pharisees were on the warpath. They were dismissive, closed-minded, and wrathful. This was not a dialogue. Their discordant voices expressed the hardness of their hearts that smothered their souls. Certainly, we can find ourselves arguing with Jesus, but can we ever forget that he is the Lord? Our “arguing” should be imbued with reverence, a dialogue that is open to correction, and an eternal perspective.

    2. Seeking Signs: These Pharisees were more Missourian than Missourian—“Show me!” They demanded signs, and one wonders if they would have been placated if he had made the sun dance. Humility, not hostility, is the proper footing for approaching Jesus. We can absolutely ask him for a sign, but we must allow him to do it the way he desires, not tailored to our incredulity.

    3. Losing Jesus: This Gospel passage utters words that can strike a chill in our souls: “Then he left them…and went off to another shore.” Did Jesus reject the Pharisees? Had he reached his limit with them? These Pharisees had cultivated an ongoing groupthink of negative bias against Jesus that ossified into an impenetrable shell. When Jesus left, it was not so much a choice he made as it was a gesture respecting their freedom. But the sigh from “the depth of his spirit” showed his regret for what might have been. Let us beware of our own hardening of heart, lest we cause Jesus great sorrow.

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, I need signs! I need to know that you are with me and that your loving providence is guiding my life. And I know that you provide signs! Please give me the grace to recognize your signs. I don’t need spectacular ones—just simple ones that point me in the direction of heaven.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a minute to reflect on what graces and signs you have sent me today.


Opening Prayer

Lord God, forgive us that in our weak faith, we ask sometimes for signs and wonders. We know that you are our Father, but it is not always easy for us to recognize your loving presence. Give us eyes of faith to see the sign that you are with us in Jesus and his message. We say so reluctantly, for it is painful: purify our trust in you and in Jesus, that we may become more mature Christians, who love you through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen