Is the story of Cain and Abel relevant to today’s society? It’s not cool to kill your brother. I mean WAY not cool. But do we need religion to learn that? If we had no religion at all – would we all be chaotically killing our siblings with out any moral compass what so ever? As though only learning these tales in the Bible can stop us all from becoming atheistic murderous hedonistic plebes?
I love my brother. He’s dead now. But I still love him. (And no. I didn’t kill him.) There is no amount of imagination in this world that would ever bring me to believe it would have been OK to kill my brother. Nor even to harm him. And I couldn’t imagine ever hurting one of my sisters either. Especially not for something like petty jealousy. If I could have ever been so enraged by jealousy that I would want to kill my siblings then all of them would be dead already. Because all of them are much better souls and more successful at life than I am. That doesn’t make me jealous though. It makes me happy to know how wonderful they are and that I was able to share this world with them. They love me. And I love them. The only drawback is that I feel a bit worried about my own relationship with God and ability to drudge on through life in His good blessing. But my brother and sisters aren’t the cause of that worry. Instead they are my bedrock, my inspiration to do better.
The story of Cain killing Abel is irrelevant. In fact it could become a stumbling block to our own faith. Because it makes us indifferent to Cain as a child of God. At the end of that story the hero is obviously Abel, whom God loved and revered so intensely more than the love He held for Cain. So most of us come to love Abel. If we had lived during his time and worked in the fields beside him, helping to tend his sheep, singing with him during happy moments, aching with him during the hard parts, and crying with him during the sad – we would have come to hate Cain for killing Abel. We already do kind of hate Cain for what he did just by knowing the story. So in a way – that story is kind of like gossip. Gossip is sinful because gossip causes hatred. And hatred can grow into murdering your brother if the smoke from your burnt sacrifice doesn’t rise to Heaven.
How many of us sent a sort of silent little prayer to God for Abel when we first discovered the story? Or at least experienced a little twinge of sympathetic emotion for Abel – which is still a little prayer. I think most of us don’t realize it. But that little twinge of emotion IS communication with the Spirit, and communication with the Spirit is definitely communication with God.
Religion teaches us to compartmentalize prayer into something in it’s own sort of benevolent category. We are taught that God is the Omnipotent Supreme Being whom we must adore and obey or suffer His wrath. We are taught that our prayer must be a complete reverent transcending anomaly above the flesh we live in and our prayer must be just this way or just that way in order to be respectful to God. And that prayer is on the highest order of solemnity. BS. We as humans build respect naturally for those who love us. God is not some cold entity who demands things of us and forces us by threat of might to love Him. He loves us. And we communicate with Him everyday whether we know it or not and whether we believe it or not. Because we love him.
Jesus didn’t tell us to “respect” God. He told us to love God. Like God loves us. And He told us to love one another, as God loves others too.
So how many of you have sent a little prayer to God for Cain’s salvation? Doesn’t Cain need our support a little bit more than the favored Abel? What about Judas of Iscariot? Have you asked God to forgive Judas? Is it ok to hate Judas – and hope that he rots in hell? Or did Jesus Christ Himself ask us to love Judas? And to love Cain? And to in fact did not Christ command us to love even the least of our brothers?
Jesus said of the sheep, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”. The goats, the unbelievers failed to do the very same. (Mt 25:35-36)
“I killed my brother Abel because I fell into hatred and jealousy. Because hatred and jealousy are sins. I sinned. Did you forgive me? Did you pray for me? Did you ask our Father to forgive me? Did you intercede for me? Did you visit me in purgatory? Are you a Samaritan who looked kindly upon my sprawled and broken carcass and who offered me water?
Ours is not to judge. Ours is to love. Sometimes quietly. Because those who sin can resent charitable acts borne of love. and our love can become a stumbling block to them. Please pray for these rioters and looters and arsonists and murderers. As Jesus Christ so nobly recognized many years ago – “Forgive them Father. For they do not know what they are doing.“