BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: *Gen 4 : 1 – 25, Mk 8 : 11 – 13.

We are still discussing the almighty topic of original sin and original curse. Permit me to call it our ancestral sins and ancestral curses. It has a part II. After Adam’s original sin – part I, God asked him a series of question : ‘Where are you? How did you know you are naked? Have you eaten the fruit I forbade you from eating?’ etc. But in today’s account God asks Cain : ‘ Where is your brother? Have you killed your brother? How dare you shed your brother’s blood?’ Both cases were sins of disobedience and defraction against the commandments of love – the 1st against the love of God, the 2nd against the love of neighbour. Without obedience to these 2 laws, we can’t relate one minute with God.

Cain was very angry and downcast and overtaken with envy and jealousy when God looked with favour on Abel’s offering and did not with his. He failed to understand that it is not what we offer to God that matters but how it is offered. Do we worship God out of fear and sense of duty or out of love and reverence for his will? Do we worship God out of fear – wanting to put God indebted to us, or out of love – acknowledging his lordship over our lives ? In all our human activities, we must never forget our relationship with God as father and our neighbour as brother. We must offer to God always a sacrifice of praise with no hope of reward. That is pure and undefiled religion. In today’s 1st reading, both Cain and Abel performed religious acts but the former was impure while the latter was pure. Both were farmers and their fruitfulness depended on God. Cain was into Crop production while Abel was into animal husbandry. Offering of first fruits, tithes or seed sowing are indices of faith and blessing. The first message of today’s reading is that it is not what we offer God that matters but how it is offered and who offers it.

Cain was both stingy and jealous. When God saw the quantity of envy in his heart against his brother he warned him that sin was lurking at his door ( heart) and that he should master it. But he did not listen to the Word of God. There was a replay of the original sin immediately. Cain assumes the Creator’s mastery over life and kills his brother ( forgetting how he is related to him). Lack of self control remains the greatest time bomb that will always destroy man. Envy is the greatest obstacle to divine blessings and prosperity. Cain ended up a vagabond together with his descendants. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise with all your heart with no hope of reward. That is religion. It must be pure and undefiled. Religion is not business. Cain didn’t know all these. He also couldn’t control his emotions. God warned him : ‘If you are doing right surely you ought to hold your head high…’ You can see the intricate connection between our moral, spiritual and liturgical life.

Ancestral curses are not issues to ignore or treet with academic levity. Sins of blood shed have transgenerational consequences. One of the governors of the embattled Southern Kaduna States of Nigeria was quoted sometime ago to have said that ‘Any blood of a Fulani shed is an investment that must yield some dividends in the future’. That lets us see what the cult of vengeance is like. Take a look at what happens in our Universities when secret cult groups like the Black Axe, Bukaniers, Vikings, etc rattle with one another in the ding dong battle of vengeance. It is always an endless cycle. The punishment of Cain was to be a restless wanderer on the earth. Whoever comes across him will kill him and whoever kills Cain and his descendants will suffer a 7 fold vengeance. Descendants of Cain, Ishmael and Esau have a negative ancestral pedigree that must not be ignored by any meaningful spiritual theology and sociology viz a viz our study of the human – divine organigram of relationship, offering and blessings.

All Christians must believe in the merits of Christ’s sufferings and resurrection and believe in what he said on the Cross : ‘It is finished’, Jn 19 : 30. He completed the work of redemption and released us from all ancestral curses and demonic obstacles. We must apply this faith everyday. It is not automatic at baptism. It is claimed by our daily ascent of faith. We need not demand a sign again from Christ like the Pharisees. No sign shall be given again to this generation more than the sign of Christ’s death and resurrection. We must love our neighbours and forgive our brother so that Christ can forgive us our own sins and the sins of our ancestors.

May God bless you today!

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