February 13, 2017

Feb. 13

February 13, 2017:  Monday, 6th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Abel kept flocks... (1st reading)
  • Soil-colored suspenders:  ...and Cain tilled the soil (1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  "Your brother’s blood cries out to me!" (1st reading)
  • 'Sun' pin:  God summoned the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting (psalm)
  • 'Fire' pin:  Your burnt offerings are before me always (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  "I'll correct you by drawing your deeds up before your eyes" (psalm)
  • 'Signs' tie:  The Pharisees sought a sign; “Why?  None will be given.” (gospel)
  • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus got into the boat again (gospel)

  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

Today's 1st reading is a story of brotherhood that should be beautiful but ends up destroyed.  It begins with jealousy:  Cain, irritated because his sacrifice doesn't please God, begins to cultivate resentment, a feeling he could control but instead harbored and let grow.  The sin he'd commit was crouching within it.  Enmity begins with a spark of jealousy or envy and grows to the point where we see life only from that perspective; the speck of sawdust becomes a plank in our eye, our life revolves around it, and it destroys the bond of fraternity.  Gradually we become obsessed, persecuted by that growing evil.  It leads us to detach and turn our brother into an enemy to be destroyed.  This enmity destroys families, peoples, everything!  This is what happened to Cain and Abel.  The process must be stopped at the first sign of bitterness and resentment.  Bitterness and resentment aren't Christian.
When God asks Cain, “Where is your brother?, Cain's answer is ironic:  “Am I my brother's keeper?”  Yes, you are your brother's keeper.  Then God said, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me!”  We can say we've never killed anyone, but anyone with a bad sentiment towards his brother has killed him.  Killing starts from something small.  How many say, "I'm interested in this land.  If a bomb kills children, it's not my fault”!  It begins with the feeling that makes you break away, not recognizing your brother, and it ends in war.  The blood of so many today cries out to God.
Lord, help us repeat your words, “Where is your brother?,” and think of those we destroy with our tongues and those treated like things, not brothers.
    Give us a sign!
  • Gn 4:1-15, 25  Eve bore Cain, then Abel; Abel became a keeper of flocks, Cain a tiller of soil.  Lord to Cain:  “Why are you so resentful?  If you don't do well, sin is lurking, but you can be his master.”  Cain killed his brother.  Lord/Cain:  “Where's your brother?” / “Am I my brother’s keeper?” / “His blood cries out to me!  You'll be banned from the soil:  it won't produce for you.  You'll become a restless wanderer.” / “Then anyone may kill me.” / “No!”  He put a mark on him, lest anyone kill him.  Adam and Eve again had relations, and she bore Seth....
  • Ps 50:1, 8, 16bc-17, 20-21  "Offer to God a sacrifice of praise."  “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; you profess my covenant with your mouth but hate discipline, speak against your brother, and spread rumors.  I'll correct you....”
  • Mk 8:11-13  The Pharisees argued with Jesus, seeking a sign to test him.  Jesus, sighing:  “Why do you seek a sign?  None will be given to you.”  He left by boat....
    • Creighton:  God loves us so much, he lets us make choices.  Abel chose to offer God his best first flockling; Cain chose an offering "in the course of time."  The gospel invites us to choose how we'll live.  Am I a sign of faith, hope, and love?  Do I praise God for his goodness?  God loves us even when we make bad choices, but may our words and deeds show love....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Truth-seekers":  After Jesus multiplied the loaves, healed people, and expelled demons, the Pharisees wanted him to give them a sign!  They were testing him, but he didn't play their game; he left.  When the chief priests asked Jesus about his authority, they didn't answer his question, so he didn't answer them.  Herod questioned him, but he didn't answer.  Pilate, who knew Jesus was a king, didn't testify to the truth, and Jesus didn't answer him.  Jesus is merciful to those who seek truth seekers, but has little to say to those who don't.
      Cain slaying Abel/ Rubens
    • Passionist:  What kind of “sign” were the Pharisees looking for?  We don't know the details of the argument, but we know Jesus sighed deeply.  Unless people are open to God, they won't believe.  The disciples didn’t understand him either.  He asks them, and us, “Are your hearts hardened?”  God spoke with Cain and Abel; they got instant feedback on their offerings.  God looked with favor on Abel's “best firstlings” but not Cain's “fruit from the soil.”  Cain took offense at the Lord withholding favor; his heart was hardened.  He killed his brother then tried to cover it up, then realized what he did and begged for mercy, and God protected him.  God didn’t need the firstlings, but Abel needed to offer them; Cain held back, isolating himself from the Source of life, inviting sin.  “Yet you can be [sin's] master” by God’s grace.  May God give us wisdom to hear and respond to him in love, not look for signs.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "No sign shall be given to this generation":  Signs tell us what's ahead.  The people expected signs would accompany the Messiah's coming.  False messiahs had made extraordinary claims to attract followers, such as claiming that they could part the Jordan or make Jerusalem's walls fall.  But Jesus knew the leaders were more interested in signs to prove they were right and Jesus wrong.  Jesus revealed they were arguing, testing him, because they didn't believe he spoke in the Father's name and wanted to discredit him.  No miracle would convince them because their hearts were proud.   Simeon prophesied Jesus would be "a sign that will be opposed...."  Jesus gave the Pharisees the sign of himself and his resurrection.  We need no further proof.  Jesus gives us eyes and ears of faith to recognize him.  The Lord reveals himself to us in his word, the Eucharist, creation, and circumstances.  If we seek him, we'll find him, and he'll give us what we need and never leave us....

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