13 February, Monday — Faith, Unsullied by Pride

Monday of Week 6 in Ordinary Time

Gen 4:1-15,25
Mk 8:11-13

“God has granted me other offspring… in place of Abel, since Cain has killed him.”

There are certain seasons in life when we desperately yearn for sweetness and sense-making. In the midst of great disappointments, grave losses and sorrows, we may try our best to connect the dots, to spot the silver linings, or hope for an oasis in the wilderness. Each of these efforts are a natural tendency to search for signs, to rely on past promises and to seek for indication that our faith in God has not been in vain…. or has it?

We are at the head of the new year still and so we begin in the book of Genesis. We stand at the beginning of the first family to emerge from the Garden of Eden. Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel… and we witness the emergence of sins that now spring forth from the hearts of men.

God was displeased with Cain’s first offering but looked with favour on Abel’s offering (Gen 4:4-5) not merely because Abel gave a blood sacrifice (the first-born of his flock and some animal fat) and Cain gave only ‘some produce of the soil’. God, knowing all, was able to see beyond and look into the state of their souls and the motivations by which these offerings sprang from. He chastised Cain (Gen 4:7): “Why are you angry and downcast? If you are well disposed, ought you not to lift up your head? But if you are ill disposed, is not sin at the door like a crouching beast hungering for you, which you must master?”

It is a call for us as we begin our new year, to start with cleansed hearts and souls. The past two to three years have been tumultuous for many while we had all struggled through various challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have suffered greatly and may have made many sacrifices that could have caused trauma, fear, resentment, hatred, envy, anger, and faithlessness in God.

Might you be walking through a difficult time yourself? Are you praying for a justice that only God can effect? Could you be losing patience and faith in trusting that He will uphold you with His rod and staff?

The readings today in Genesis of ‘The mark of Cain’ and the Gospel passage about Jesus’ disappointment on the faithless generation that demands signs may sound dismal and harsh upon those of us who may have borne the brunt of unfairness, betrayal, years of unanswered petitions, or ever-increasing tragedies — Why? Why me? Why again? Why now? Why this?

Perhaps, this might be your hearts’ cry… as did Cain, as he felt ashamed and rejected by God… as did Abel, as he bled to death from Cain’s blow… as did Eve and Adam, as they beheld the dying body of their second-born.

Yet, God is merciful. God does not cease in His protection, or anointing us with His beautiful promises. God blessed Adam and Eve with a third offspring, whom Eve named Seth. After a period of mourning, the first parents were able to welcome joy again. We don’t know how long any of us might have to wait for our prayers, but the Scriptures today are a poignant reminder that pride can murder our faith in God.

Let us harden not our hearts with a conditional faith in our generous Father. Let us lay down our search for outward signs and to turn our eyes inward to our own hearts where Jesus dwells, to say, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Merciful and ever generous God, we pray for the grace to have a child-like trust and faith in your goodness.

Thanksgiving: Lord, I thank you for the reminders that your promises are firm and they are eternal. Thank you for giving me these moments of realisation through the people around me, especially my own child who reveals your love for me always.


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