God turned his eyes on Abel, and his gifts, and did not look at the offering of Cain. God begins to listen to men and to receive their offerings: he is appeased concerning the human race, and the children of Adam are no longer odious to him. Abel the righteous is by his righteousness a figure of Jesus Christ who alone has offered for us an oblation which heaven approves, and appeases his father on our behalf.
But Abel was killed by Cain; it is true; and it is by this place that he mainly becomes the figure of Jesus Christ, who more just and more innocent than Abel as he was justice itself, is delivered to the jealousy of the Jews, like Abel to that of Cain. Why did Cain hate his brother? Why, said St. John, did he kill him? Why else because he was bad, with evil intent, and jealous; and that his works were bad; like those of his brother were right. In the same way the Jews hated Jesus and made him die, as he says himself, because they were bad, and he was good. It was out of envy that they delivered it to Pilate, as Pilate himself acknowledged. The devil, that proud and jealous spirit of man, was the instigator of the Jews, as he had been of Cain; and having inspired them with their malice, they put to death the one who had chosen to be made their brother, as Cain killed his own.
The death of Abel is therefore for us a renewal of hope, because he is the figure of Jesus. The blood of Abel poured on the earth cried to heaven for vengeance against Cain; and though the blood of Jesus Christ takes a more favorable cry, as St. Paul says, as he cries mercy; however, by the ingratitude and impenitence of the Jews, Jesus’ blood was on them and their children, as they had asked. Abel the righteous is the first of the children of Adam who suffers the judgment of death pronounced against them: the death made for sinners began by an innocent, to exercise his dominion, and God thus allowed it, as it had a weaker foundation: the devil lost the guilty by attacking Jesus, in whom he found nothing that belonged to him. This is what Abel prefigured; and unjustly killed he showed, to say so, that death began badly, and that his dominion would be destroyed.
Let us then take care that all the innocent blood does not come on us, from the blood of Abel the righteous to the blood of Zechariah, who was slain between the temple and the altar. We take up a murderous spirit when we take up a spirit of hatred and jealousy against our innocent brothers; and our part is with him who is a muirderer from the beginning; not only because he killed at once all mankind, but because to satisfy his hatred against men, he first wanted to shed blood, and the first death was violent; and to show, so to speak, by this means, that no one would escape death, and that Abel the just would succumb to it. But God turned his anger into hope for us, since it would as the righteous Abel unjustly killed by Cain was the figure of Jesus Christ, who is righteous par excellence, and the unjust punishment which was to be the deliverance of all criminals.