Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Marked Like Cain

"At the beginning of Dante's Purgatorio,
the Pilgrim discovers seven Ps scratched across his brow
─one for each of the seven deadly sins (peccati).
Through his laborious climb up the seven-storied mountain,
one by one, the P's are wiped away.
It is the image of a soul saved, but still struggling free of sin's sevenfold lack of love.
Lent charts us on a laborious course up a similar Mount Purg
And at the base today we too find our faces begrimed.
Our ashes make public confession that we stand stained by our wicked deeds.
We have earned the dusty death wage of sin.
Yet, like the guilty Cain, who received a mysterious mark from the hand of the Lord,
 this sign we wear is also God's seal of protection (cf. Gn 4:15).
We are branded today with the sign of the cross, as sheep of the Lord's own pasture,
so that the devil (who would make on us his own mark of the beast) will know
to keep his thieving hands off.
The sign of the death due for our sins thus becomes the emblem of hope
─if we believe in the cross and repent in dust and ashes.
Ezekiel foresaw this mystery in a vision when he saw the saved,
who grieve over the sins of Jerusalem, having an X written upon their brow (Ez 9:4)."

Reflection based on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Father Anthony Giambrone, O.P.

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