The sins of anger and envy are introduced early on in scripture in the lives of Cain and Abel. After being expelled from the Garden of Eden, the two sons were born to Adam and Eve. Cain was the first born, followed by his younger brother Abel. Sibling rivalry, though not explicitly named, made its debut on the world stage in the fourth chapter of Genesis. Although the Smothers Brothers would not appear for another six millennia or so, the exclamation “Mom always liked you best”, albeit in nascent form, began to take shape. The sins of anger and envy are made manifest in the following account:
“In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the Lord said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted;[ but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it. (Genesis 4:3-7)
Anger and envy, along with the other five deadly sins “lie in wait” at the door of every human being and have since the dawn of humankind. The fratricide that occurred between Cain and Abel has been committed in one form or another throughout the centuries and rears its ugly head from the smallest of families to the largest of countries. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the outworking of Original Sin and its effects on all sin in the world:
“In the account of Abel’s murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” (CCC 2259)
The “voice of your brother’s blood” that followed Cain for the rest of his life, is the voice crying out from those who have been killed through the sins of anger and envy in the sweep of human history. Let us pray for the grace and strength to heed the crying voices in our world and repent of the times that we have succumbed to turning a deaf ear.