The Mark of Cain
Solidarity, the Mark of Cain and the Christian Mission
© Third Millennium, LLC
By: Deacon Keith A Fournier
In the Beginning
The Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, provides an extraordinary account of “the beginnings” of the created order and most particularly the origin of man and woman. The name itself means the “Book of the Beginnings.” However, this book provides much more. It presents us with deep insights into the very reason we human beings are the way we are and reveals how we can change.
This first Book of the sacred text was a reference point for the Lord Jesus Christ in His authoritative teaching on the absolute prohibition on divorce (See, e.g. Matthew 19). It has, throughout Jewish and Christian tradition, become the reference point for explaining the deeper meaning of God’s relationship with his creation and the crown of his creation, humankind.
The story of the fall of the human race, recorded in the third chapter, is a profoundly insightful account of the wrong choice made by our first parents after they were invited into a relationship with the Creator and the results of that choice – in the lives of all of those who would be borne from them.
After having been fashioned out of love by Love and for love, having been given the capacity to choose to love in return, they chose against love. In so doing, they suffered the consequences of their errant exercise of freedom. In the wake of that rupture of relationship all of creation was deeply affected. They committed this “original sin” precisely when they used their freedom (the very essence of what reflects the “Image of God” within each of us) to reject God’s invitation to participate in a relationship of love.
What makes us human beings different than all the other creatures (which God fashioned out of His love for us) is our capacity to make choices. God was not (and still is not) interested in the rote response of robots. He wants the loving response of sons and daughters. He invites us into communion with Him. He wants the free gift of men and women who choose to love Him.
Ah, the extraordinary power of our capacity to choose. It opens up either heaven or hell. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself.” (par. 1861)
The results of this wrong choice had generational repercussions.
The Mark of Cain
One of the other accounts in the “Book of the Beginnings”, the “Book of Genesis” in the Old Testament of the Sacred Scriptures, also packed with deep insight, is the story of Cain and his brother Abel:
“The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the LORD. Next she bore his brother Abel. Abel became a keeper of flocks and Cain a tiller of the soil.
In the course of time 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. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.
So the LORD said to Cain: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."
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. Then the LORD asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
The LORD then said: "What have you done! Listen: your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil! Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on the 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 then left the LORD'S presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
This story provides a framework within which we can more fully understand our relationship with God and ...
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