Collect of the Week (Proper 16-C)
O Lord, You have called us to enter Your kingdom through the narrow door. Guide us by Your Word and Spirit, and lead us now and always into the feast of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Genesis 4:1-15 (From the Bible Story Lectionary)
1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten1 a man with the help of the LORD." 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?1 And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for2 you, but you must rule over it." 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother.1 And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" 10 And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." 13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.1 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." 15 Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.
Catechism: The Fifth & Sixth Commandments
What is the Fifth Commandment?
You shall not murder.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
What is the sixth Commandment?
You shall not commit adultery.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.
In the name of T Jesus.
In chapter three of Genesis, we have the curse, a judgment spoken by God on all creation because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Nothing was exempt. Rather than unending life, plants, animals, and even the crows of the LORD’s creation—mankind—would now suffer the wages of sin and die. The LORD gives life; it is the sin of mankind that brings death. And it doesn’t take long for mankind to bring death.
The curse was in chapter three, and in the very next chapter we hear the story of Cain murdering Abel. Selfishness, jealousy, covetous desire, anger, hatred: all of these sinful desires are already in the heart of Cain and are what lead him to commit that first bloody murder. And even though this is just one chapter after the fall, we learn from this that when man is born sinful, he is born completely sinful.
Like dogs giving birth to dogs, and cats giving birth to cats, sinful man gives birth to sinful men. The offspring of Adam don’t need generations to become sinful; they are born sinful—completely sinful. Cain’s heart was already full of all those sinful desires spoken of by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 15. And so, where there are sinful hearts, there will be sinful desires; and these sinful desires, left unchecked, will result in the taking of life and the destruction of the LORD’s good creation.
This is why the LORD gives the Fifth Commandment. The creator of life is also the protector of life. He delights not in the death of anyone, and so he has given mankind his explicit will on the subject of life and death. “You shall not murder.” You are not to take life into your own hands, for life is not yours to give or to take. Rather, you are to help and support your neighbor in all his physical needs.
We see this even in how the LORD gives His punishment to Cain, the murderer. Rather than the LORD shedding the blood of Cain to pay for the blood of Abel, the LORD protects even the life of the guilty. Sure, there was judgment on Cain, as he was made a fugitive and wanderer in the land. But there was also protection for his life. The LORD placed a mark on him, and warned anyone who might seek to harm him. Because the LORD and giver of life, is also the protector of life.
You see, the blood of Cain cannot pay for the blood of Abel. The death of any of our enemies does not satisfy our desire for vengeance. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. And it has done that. The blood of Jesus was shed so that life might once again be the gift that is given by the LORD. Through His blood, death is defeated, and eternal life is given. So the LORD not only continues to give life, and through the Fifth Commandment protects life, but in Christ, the LORD still makes life to last forever. In the name of T Jesus. Amen.
Lord and giver of life, chase from us all the hatred, envy, jealousy, and covetous desires which lead us to mistreat our neighbors. Bring us to repentance, and by faith in the forgiveness won for us by Christ, teach us how to love and serve our neighbor in all his physical needs; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.