Today we see how human beings begin to go their separate ways. Following the murder of his brother, Cain “went away from the presence of the Lord.” His descendants are carefully noted and his entire lineage appears to be corrupted. While it is not clear who Lamech murdered, he does not appear to have repented, leading Saint John Chrysostom to comment,
You see, confession is the greatest efficacy for correction of faults. Thus the denial of guilt after the committing of sin proves worse than the sins themselves.
By contrast, the house of Adam received new life with the birth of Seth, whose name means “resurrection” according to Saint Augustine. Seth’s descendants distinguished themselves from Cain’s descendants and chose to call upon the Lord. Saint Ephrem the Syrian writes,
After Seth begot Enosh, Moses wrote ‘at that time he began to call on the name of the Lord.’ Because Seth had separated himself from the house of Cain, the Sethites were called by the name of the Lord, that is, the just people of the Lord.
By identifying these different lineages, this reading reminds us that human beings do have a choice and that even after the fall God continued to draw people to Himself and to prepare a people who would eventually give birth to the Messiah.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 4:16-26:
Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael the father of Methushael, and Methushael the father of Lamech. And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah bore Tubalcain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD.