Grace to you!
From the Genesis story of the two brothers, Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-15), we have the first instance of the vice of envy in the bible. I will use this opportunity to reflect on six signs of envy and propose how to cultivate alternate skills and virtue to counter them.
1. Feeling pain at another’s blessing: Sadness or pain at other’s success, blessings or progress is a sure sign of envy. Cain and Abel individually offered to the Lord the fruit of their labor. God found favor with the sacrifice of Abel and not with Cain’s. Cain became sad at the blessings of his younger brother. Envy. Response to this feeling of envy is to cultivate the disposition of graciousness. “Be not a sore loser,” is a wise advise.
2. Feeling happy at another’s pain or misfortune: When the sentiments of joy or the feeling of satisfaction is felt at another’s misfortune, especially, if the person is seen as a rival, it is a sure sign of envy. Cain may have wished the worst harm done to Abel hence he killed him. Remember that when a rival suffers misfortune, it doesn’t make us better either. So, learn that the world is big enough for all.
3. Wishing others harm. No matter how subtle it may sound or be, it is a sure sign of envy when we wish a friend, a relative, a co-worker, a superior, supervisor, a leader, etc. evil because of an implicit or explicit imagination they are a stumbling block to our own story or agenda. This is certainly a sign of envy. Remember, no one can be you. You are you. Your unique place and identity are non-repeatable.
4. Thinking another’s blessing should belong to us: When we feel or imagine that the blessings of another should belong to us, it’s envy knocking at the door. Nip it in the bud. Know that people’s blessings are theirs. Yours is yours. God blesses all differently.
5. Not concerned about our neighbor’s wellbeing: “Am I my brother’s keeper” the famous quote from the mouth of Cain when confronted by God regarding the whereabouts of his brother Abel whom he murdered, is the climax of the deniability of deep-seated envy. When we do not care about what happens to someone whom we should care about, it may be an indication of some envy locked in somewhere. Examine your heart and change course. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
6. Being dismissive: Being dismissive of another’s relationships, opportunities, accomplishments or success, and trying to explain them away with some subliminal demeaning tone is a clear sign of envy. Be positive about another’s accomplishment and acknowledge they did something right. If you extol the good, good comes running to you as well.
Overall, envy can be overcome if we think of others, relate with them and respond to them inspired by love, meekness and kindness. Kindness flowing from love of one another is the final answer to envy. Be kind!
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.