6th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Gen 4:1-15, 25
The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Next she bore his brother Abel. Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil. In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen. So the Lord said to Cain: “Why are you so resentful and crestfallen. If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord then said: “What have you done! Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil! Therefore you shall be banned from the soil that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord: “My punishment is too great to bear. Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight.” “Not so!” the Lord said to him. “If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.” So the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight. Adam again had relations with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain slew him.”
Gospel: Mk 8:11-13
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.
HOW TO OVERCOME TEMPTATIONS LIKE JESUS! In the Gospel today, Jesus overcomes temptations to himself and to his ministry. Also, today when the Pharisees ask for a sign from Jesus, another temptation, Jesus leaves them and enters the boat! Sometimes when Jesus was tempted also, he kept quiet and at other times he quoted Scriptures (Matt. 4). Let us pray that we may overcome temptations. Use any of the given methods Our Lord and Master has shown us the ways of overcoming temptations, provocations and arguments. When we do so, we shall inherit salvation. If Cain had ran away when tempted to kill his brother Abel, we would have been reading a different account of a good man called Cain. A man or a woman can save a family quarrel when silence is observed in the place of answering back. These little exercises will go a long way to save us and save others and eventually lead us to salvation.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to know when to speak and when to keep quiet for the sake of the kingdom. Amen.
WHY DO WE RELATE TO JESUS?: The scribes and the Pharisees could not accepted Jesus because his life and teachings were not in line with theirs. So, they argued with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven. This was not the only time they asked for a sign as proof for his authority. Jesus was teaching with authority and doing many miracles –giving sight to the blind, healing the deaf and dumb, and the paralytics, casting out devils, and even raising the dead. The people listened to him with admiration. The leaders had to either accept or deny him. In their denial, they chose to challenges him. Hence, they asked for a sign, in order to discredit him. Jesus did not yield to their demands. Faith in God and in Jesus is not the result of rational effort of man but of humble submission of the self to God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the way the truth and the life, help me to accept the truth, walk in your way and attain Eternal Life.
SEEKING MIRACLES IN ORDER TO BELIEVE: We often make demands in order to believe in God, yet faith is not built on a foundation of numerous miracles. Also, those who demand signs and miracles, keep looking for more and more in order to believe. In the end they never believe. In fact, all through they are refusing to believe. In today’s readings we see the Pharisees eager to keep their argument alive as they seek to prove a point. Had they been eager to believe, they would have started on a reconciliatory note, with a spirit of listening and a sense of give and take. Contrary to the Pharisees, St Augustine says, “I believe that I may understand and I understand that I may believe”. For him, belief is at the core of human nature; belief and understanding are inseparable. If we choose to be like the Pharisees, we shall always have an excuse not to believe. If we choose the way of St. Augustine, we shall always have a reason to believe. Without trust we shall remain hungry and starved.
SIGNS OF DOUBT: It is obvious from the gospels that the Pharisees were the perpetual critics of Jesus. Notice how they boldly stepped forward here and immediately started to argue with Jesus. They refused to take the Lord’s words at face value. They claimed a sign from the heavens which would enable them to place their faith in the Lord, but Jesus knew that even the most spectacular signs would not convince them to accept him as the promised Messiah and certainly not as the Son of God, equal to the Father. The only sign they received from Jesus was that of a frustrated sigh, from the depths of His spirit. A sigh is the expression of a deep audible breath. It often implies a kind of hopelessness in a certain situation. Then the Lord simply boarded the boat and left. We cannot answer every question to the satisfaction of every person. Some don’t really want to know what we think, they just want to argue perhaps. We have all been in those situations where there’s not much we can do except, like Jesus, give a sigh and quit the place!