Lenten Reflection for March 11

Scriptures for today

  • Psalm 32
  • Genesis 4:1-16
  • Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Cockatoo Island, Sydney AU. Site of former penitentiary.The reading from Genesis is a classic morality tale of two brothers pitted against each other. And, to our dismay, God is the puppet master who has created a scenario in which Cain doesn’t have a chance and God ends up acting like a tyrant.

Poor Cain! He is doomed from the start. Somehow his offering of grain to God is not pleasing. I rather suspect that this morality tale was written from the perspective of the sheep herders of ancient Palestine in which the blood sacrifice of a lamb is acceptable in the sight of the Lord, while the farmer’s offering of grain is rejected. The “back story” here is about the constant war between shepherds and their grazing animals and farmers trying to protect their land from such grazing.

And what about God? The picture of God portrayed in this scripture passage is tyrannical, egotistical, cruel and unforgiving. Cain kills his brother and God seeks revenge. There is little talk here of compassion and understanding in the circumstances. The only mercy that God offers Cain is to place a mark on him so that others will not kill him. It is like a “Scarlet Letter.” Is this justice?

A morality tale such as this is a reminder of how “tough on crime” agendas don’t work. There is little effort on the part of God to show compassion and understanding. Cain is guilty and banished to a land called “Wandering”, east of Eden. There is no effort at rehabilitation or trying to bring healing to Cain. He has “sinned” and must face the consequences. In such an environment, what are the chances that Cain will kill again? When one is made to feel worthless and banished from the community, what is the response likely to be?

This particular scriptural text is full of negative images of God. Where do you find positive images of God in the Bible? ♥

by Linda Hunter


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