Here we see the timeless story of Cain and Abel. This story teaches us some important lessons, first of which is that we owe our very best to God. Cain gives to God the fruit which had fallen to the ground, while Abel gives to God the firstlings of his flock. Cain is upset when his offering is not pleasing to God, and we get lesson #2: Don't be jealous of others, rather try to always do better than you did last time. Comparing ourselves to others rarely ends well...as Cain discovers.
Thus humanity begins to see the fruits of sin in society...that which will ultimately lead to the flood.
Incidentally, I remember having a problem with this in that we don't hear where Cain's wife came from. Clearly, he must have married his sister, since there was no other source of humans. I had a hard time with this idea until I came across what St. Augustine wrote of this in City of God:
As, therefore, the human race, subsequently to the first marriage of the man who was made of dust, and his wife who was made out of his side, required the union of males and females in order that it might multiply, and as there were no human beings except those who had been born of these two, men took their sisters for wives,—an act which was as certainly dictated by necessity in these ancient days as afterwards it was condemned by the prohibitions of religion . . . and though it was quite allowable in the earliest ages of the human race to marry one’s sister, it is now abhorred as a thing which no circumstances could justify. (The City of God XV.16)
More on this tomorrow when we look at the crazy longevity of these first humans...
Seems like you can pick a Psalm...any Psalm, and find something relevant. I like how this one goes between addressing God and addressing men - praise and instruction. The end is really striking, though, and underscores how we find our true happiness in God and not in worldly things: "Thou has put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. I n peace I will both lie down and sleep; for thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety."
No matter what trials we face, no matter what pain we endure, knowing how our God loves us should give us this ultimate peace. I'm bookmarking this one for anytime I have trouble going to sleep due to anxiety or worry (not that it happens very often, but I think this is a perfect prescription for when it does).
Here we meet John the Baptist, and read about Jesus' baptism. I love John. This guy is crazy for God. Matthew ties it into Isaiah (as we expect him to do), then gives us the full picture. John is totally authentic. He doesn't care what people think, and he says exactly what he's thinking. First with the Pharisees and Sad'ducees, whom he tells off in grand fashion, then with Jesus himself, when he questions what Jesus is asking him to do. John clearly has a deep faith and has been awaiting the coming of Jesus, but even he questions...Jesus gently explains himself, and he acquiesces.
If only we could be more like John the Baptist sometimes. Certainly we can (and do) question Jesus when we don't understand what He asks of us. When He answers us, hopefully we then consent to what He is asking, as John did.
We also get a look at the Trinity here...Jesus, the Son, being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending on him, and the Voice of the Father, all at once. Awesome.
Skipping again today due to pilot error. Discussion on the CCC will resume tomorrow.
Genesis 5:1 - 6:8