We need to accept the fact that each of us is better than anyone else at being ourselves, and we always will be. Others are better than us at being themselves, and they always will be. When the temptations of envy or jealousy come our way, we simply need to turn our mind’s attention back to these simple truths.
Envy and jealousy make us lose focus and keep us from contributing to the health of the Body of Christ. They in fact poison the body. They both involve basing our self-worth and security on other people- either on being better than them or on what they might think. The sin of envy causes an eroding of the community. It aswell causes dissension.
We’re all guilty of envy from time to time, but before we beat ourselves up too much, we need to make a distinction, between the temptation and the sin. The temptation we have little control over – the sin, we do have control over.
Envy and jealousy are spiritual poisons because, they drain spiritual energy from our souls, disturb our peace of mind, lead to broken relationships, life-long regrets, family devastation, and even wars.
Envy is very powerful. It is not a surprise that the Church has long identified envy as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, second only in stature to pride, the deadliest of sins. Some have called envy the daughter of pride since it flows out of our prideful nature. As with all sins, envy separates us from each other.
Paul wrote indicating that people turn their gifts and talents into sources of personal pride and competition and the community losing its way. The reason for Paul’s teachings was to foster an appreciation for each other’s gifts and heal division. Our lesson is: Our gifts all come from the same God, They are given for the good of all, and they’re not for any one person’s glory.
Paul’s point regarding envy is that there’s nothing that we have, that we’ve not been given- so why boast, why compare, why compete unnecessarily?
As we know, for each of the seven deadly sins, there are also seven heavenly virtues that are the proper antidote for each. For the sin of envy, admiration is the proper antidote.
We are to admire the litany of gifts given in the reading, whether you possess them or someone else does, be it wisdom, prophecy, mighty deeds, or service, caring for others.
In the Gospel, Mary shows us how to leave without envy. for if it were in our time, during the wedding in Cana in Galili, when the couple ran out of wine, we would say “Oh good, they’re out of wine. Hah, our wedding was better than theirs. What a bunch of idiots. I’ll spread the word around, happily.
Instead, what does Mary do? She says, “What can we do to help? Do what he tells you to do.” Mary reacts positively, not taking advantage of their misfortune, but tries to address their need.
St Paul, therefore, gives us the solution to envy and jealousy and the antidote for this poison. He shows us where we should base our self-worth and security: not on being better than other people or trying to impress them, but on doing what God created us to do and striving to please him.
The Holy Spirit endows all of us with gifts in abundance. If we are younger, we need to make use of the gift that we have of energy. It does not last forever and if older, we need to make use of our wisdom, especially to help the young people. No matter our age, we need to celebrate the gifts we do have, and not lament the ones we don’t.
Our Home Work for the month:
Keeping in mind that the antidote for envy is admiration, think of someone you know of that you are at least a little bit envious of – we all have them. At least a few days in a week time, go out of your way to give them a compliment. You will have taken a step in the right direction. Also, when we find ourselves in a conversation that involves an unhelpful comparison between us and someone else, just stop. Change the conversation, change the topic. Move on to something else.
It’s not what we do that makes us important, it’s not what we have that makes us important, and it’s not what people say about us that makes us important. It’s just the simple fact that each of us is God’s beloved children and will prosper when we come to realize that fact.