13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Cain’s proclamation of woe speaks to a very basic fear that lurks in all of us: the fear of ostracization, of being outcast from society, of being marked, of being known first and foremost as “the person that did that terrible thing,” of watching society happily continue along its way while we stand on the outside looking in.

I can only imagine how crushing a condemnation one must feel when sentenced to jail. I would expect that “unfit for society” and “a danger to others” are hard labels to take out of the mind, even after being released back into the wider world. Even after one is “reintegrated” do they actually feel so?

To be sure, our crimes against our fellowmen drive a very real rift between us, and murder is the most separating crime of all. Sooner or later, though, all of us would become ostracized from one another if not for grace and healing.

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