Nothing fills me with more anxiety than contemplating the eventual adolescence and early adulthood of my five children. I remember my own high school antics and college lunacy with a stomach weighted with dread, knowing that each of my offspring will be invited to make the same choice God held before Cain:
"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" (Genesis 4:6-7).
That's basically my entire efforts at catechesis and character formation, in a nutshell.
A kid falls short in some way. You discipline if discipline is called for. You encourage where encouragement is needed. You coach in whatever manner of coaching is appropriate. And you remind this little human person—whom you helped to create and who walks around with your very heart beating inside his body, so deep is your love for him—that the enemy is lurking at the door. That a war is raging for his heart, and will rage on until his last breath.
And yet, he can choose to battle sin, and win.
This story from Scripture wrecks me as a parent. But it also points me to Jesus, the Obedient Son, the Son Who came to master sin and conquer death.
Cain walked in faux freedom and ended up becoming enslaved by the guilt of his choices. But Jesus holds out real freedom, asks us to come, to follow Him, and to battle our demons with the power won for us at the Cross. His mercy is new every morning, and none of us are too far gone to receive His grace.
Have you read "Evangelium Vitae" by Pope Saint John Paul II? Read through Chapter 1 to see his discussion of Cain and Abel.
Jenny Uebbing is a wife, mother to five, and the author of the blog Mama Needs Coffee where she writes about sex, marriage, and the Catholic Church. She's a freelance writer, a speaker, and an espresso enthusiast. You can find out more about her here.