“Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. ”
A reading from the Book of Genesis (Genesis 4:1-15.25)
Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought some of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me this day away from the ground; and from your face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him. And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 50: 1 and 8.16bc-17.20-21 (R. cf. 14a)
R/. Give your praise as a sacrifice to God.
“The God of gods, the Lord,
has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices;
your offerings are always before me.” R.
“How can you recite my commandments,
and take my covenant on your lips,
you who despise correction,
and cast my words behind you?” R.
“You who sit and malign your own brother,
and slander your own mother’s son?
You do this, and should I keep silence?
Do you think that I am like you?
I accuse you, lay the charge before you.” R.
Alleluia. I am the way, and the truth, and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father but by me. Alleluia.
“Why does this generation seek a sign? ”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (Mark 8:11-13)
At that time: The Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The story of Cain and Abel shows us how original sin can spread like a virus. But Jesus, the ‘New Adam’, is the leader of a new creation; those living by His truth and grace. The blood of Abel still flows in places of conflict all over the world. We continue to hear God ask; “Where is your brother?” where is that brother or sister on a sick bed; that brother or sister who is hungry; that brother or sister who has no house to live in; that brother or sister who lives away from the Church? Perhaps we can try in some small way to break the cycle of division, resentment and revenge. Our embrace of Christ’s truth can bring peace to our soul and to our life. We can be a sign of peace in a violent and troubled world.