daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Monday, 6th Week of the Year, February 16, 2009
Gen 4:1-15,25; Ps 49; Mk 8:11-13

"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 couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:6-7).

Here we see good and evil. The Lord accepted Abel and his offering; "but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell" (Gen 4:5). The Lord then explains to Cain that if he does good, he will be accepted and exalted, and that in order to do good, he has to master sin. But Cain did not listen to the Lord, and instead slew his brother. And because he did not repent, he received a great punishment for his sin. He was told that he would be "a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" (Gen 4:12).

If we are Christians, we have been forgiven and made righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by means of our faith in him. But then we have to sanctify ourselves by avoiding sin in the future and mastering it, although sin will always be crouching at our door, trying to trip us up. Then if we do good, we will be exalted (Gen 4:7); but if we do evil, we will be like Cain, driven from the presence of the Lord, to one degree or another. The life of faith, then, is a constant warfare against sin and imperfections. If we do good, that is, if we live according to the will of God, we will be exalted; but if we do not live in accordance with his will, we will not be accepted, and God will punish us so that we might repent and return to him with all our heart.

The Lord's punishments are meant to help us to renounce our false ways, and to learn to obey him and to do his will in the future. Hence the Lord disciplines us for our good, as a loving Father, when we do not please him, so that we might turn back to him. Therefore, "do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives" (Heb 12:5-6; Prov 3:11-12).

It is not easy always to be disciplined by the Lord; but this is how he treats those whom he loves-"For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves" (Heb 12:6). Sometimes those who are more loved are more disciplined; and as we grow in holiness, we are disciplined for smaller and smaller imperfections. But Cain did not accept this. He did not repent, and so he lost everything.

But if we accept the warning that God gave to Cain, it will be well with us. Therefore, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security" (Ps 36:3). If we make the effort to do good, to do what God shows us is according to his will, we will be blessed. God shows us his will in small details by interiorly punishing us with sadness and depression when we go astray from his will. Therefore make an effort to do his will with exactitude, for "Thou dost rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from thy commandments" (Ps 118:21). And "Depart from evil, and do good; so you shall abide forever" (Ps 36:27). "Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to possess the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked" (Ps 36:34).




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