Grace to you!
Many of us are familiar with the Shakespearian classic drama, Macbeth. The drama shows how guilt, due to evil committed against one another, never goes away from hearts that have allowed it in.
From the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Book of Genesis chapters 41 and 42, precisely Genesis 42:21, we see one of the earliest examples of the pricking of conscience (guilt) due to injustice done against a brother. “Then they [Joseph’s brothers except Benjamin] said to one another, ‘In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we would not listen; therefore is this distress come upon us.’”
Based on biblical records, Joseph's brothers sold him due to envy. They couldn’t overcome the bitter jealousy against a brother who seemed hopeful and promising. But God had a better plan. Joseph’s brothers, however, didn't know that by selling him, they were actually aiding Joseph to reach the plan of greatness that God already has for him. What an irony?
Envy has no benefit to the envious or to society. Many times, people suppose they can overtake their rival by bitter and malicious envy. Hardly do they know, as Venerable Fulton J. Sheen rightly said, that nobody overtakes somebody he or she kicks from behind since the one kicked is always ahead.
A sprinter who is ahead doesn't look back to kick those behind him. If he does, he himself would be slowed down and miss being ahead. So also, kicking people from behind makes us always behind and not ahead to the goal. Whereas God's wish is that we keep an eye on the goal, the finish line, not on the heels of those marching to the goal with us.
Envy is a terrible vice and the harm it does to families, relationships and organizations are terrible. It must be overcome if one wants to lead the gospel message, build and maintain relationships, and reach one’s ultimate goal in life.
The brothers of Joseph were so envious they went against their own blood brother. But then, we see how the voice of conscience wouldn't be completely silenced. We see it in the tone of their voices as they lamented for what they did against their brother, Joseph. Years had passed, yet the cry for justice and guilt never went away. Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body. It is a sign that something is wrong on the inside.
Feeling of guilt should cause us to make amends. Restitution may be needed if justice is violated. Confession is necessary; and seeking forgiveness from one sinned against may be required so the pain in the heart due to guilt could be healed.
How should we respond to envy? Tomorrow's reflection will propose a response.
Let us pray that God will give us the grace to overcome the temptation to envy and bitter jealousy, as these are sins against charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 14: Gn 41:55-57; 42:5-7A, 17-24A; Mt 10:1-7]
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.