Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 4:1-15.25; Mark 8:11-13)
Sibling rivalry may be as old as Cain and Abel, but these two brothers had more between them the contention for parental affection. Cain was a farmer and Abel, a shepherd. The two ways of life have always been at odds. Although Cain is the elder brother, Abel’s herding probably preceded Cain’s husbandry. Cain’s line of work, however, is more complicated and requires greater skill.
Because he is always planning well ahead for contingencies, it is likely that Cain calculates about his gift to God. Abel, on the other hand, quite innocently gives God “one of the best firstlings of his flock.” God’s pleasure with Abel’s offering and indifference to Cain’s causes the older brother’s resentment. God does not shun Cain. Indeed, like the father in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, He goes out to reason with him. But Cain rejects God’s advice and kills his brother. Even after this outrage, God does not abandon Cain. He marks Cain as His protectorate.
With Lent around the corner, we should strive to make our offering to God more like Abel’s. Rather than calculating what we would miss, we should give God our best. As was said of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, we should “do something beautiful for God.”