Grace to you!
Today, I would like to share some thoughts on how to overcome envy.
Did you read about Joseph in the Old Testament and how ten of his eleven brothers, the sons of Israel, sold him to the Ishmaelites? Horrible. What was the issue? Why would brothers do this to their own? Envy.
Joseph was well-loved by his father, Jacob. Besides, he had some dreams, which he shared with his family, suggesting he was "destined" for greatness. His brothers were envious of him because of these. When you can, you may read the full story in Genesis 37.
One could understand the feeling of being tempted to envy. It can arise from a human emotion of not being validated or dealing with a younger brother or colleague who seems to have exceptional talents or blessings. Or the hidden desire to wish that what the other person has should be ours. The feeling is a temptation. Nonetheless, just like any other temptation, we should try to avoid it snowballing to envy.
What is envy? It’s to feel joy at a person’s woes and to feel sad for another person’s progress, so much so the envious would want to hinder (if not stop) another’s progress. When this feeling is encouraged or acted upon, it becomes bitter and disastrous jealousy.
Because of envy and jealousy, many have committed murder. An example is a story told by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 21:33-43, where the workers, due to envy and greed, killed the son of their employer because they wanted his inheritance. Due to envy, many have slandered the innocent. Many have also stolen. Envy is a terrible vice.
Here is the other side of the story regarding the envious. It prevents the envious from advancing in life, from reaching their own goals in life. It is because they focus their creative passions and imagination on their so-called competitor—the object of their envy. The envious are beclouded by what their rivals are doing or what they have. As a result, they unwittingly put a stumbling block on their way of success. They prevent themselves from charting their course in life. This is the death of growth, creativity and progress.
The brothers of Joseph had many talents. But envy for the little boy would not allow them to see the bigger picture. There is an analogy from venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen I would love to adopt here. He suggests that envy tries to kick people from behind. It places the rival ahead because the envious is walking behind them, that is, kicking them from behind. And no matter how hard the envious try, they cannot overtake somebody they are kicking from behind because that person is always ahead of them.
I hope you wouldn't want to kick people from behind? Instead, may we focus on what God has called us to be. Discover our niche. We will find there are many opportunities we never knew existed right in our hands.
The world is large enough for all. Opportunities are limitless. Lent is a time to discover those opportunities.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday, Lent Week 2: Gen. 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.