Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 4:1-15.25; Mark 8:11-13)

The seven deadly sins capture most imaginations.  Sin appeals to egotistic self-interest.  The deadly or capital sins have greater attraction because they imply great risk and big payoff.  The seven are not so much sins as tendencies to sin.  They may be helpfully classified as run-away passions causing people to act contrary to the law and their real interests.  In today’s first reading God counsels Cain to keep these passions in check.

God acts benevolently toward Cain.  Rather than ignore him after He chooses Abel’s sacrifice rather than his, he gives Cain good advice.  He admonishes him to, in effect, let go of envy and anger.  God tells him that these passions need not control Cain.  Rather with the development of virtue Cain can control them.

Passions in themselves are not evil.  They may even lead to some good.  There is a righteous anger, for example, and erotic love may lead to marriage and a family.  But even in these instances, we want to control their power.  Developing virtue through prayer, patience, and persistence in doing good we can harness our passions to serve us and our community.