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. In addition, he had some dreams, which he shared with his family, suggesting he was “destined” for greatness. His brothers were envious of his claims, as well as of the fact that his father was showing him much love. When you can, you may read the full story in Genesis 37.
One could understand the feeling of being tempted to envy; a human feeling of not being validated or dealing with a younger brother or colleague who has exceptional talents or blessings (so it seems). The feeling could be 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, many have committed murder. An example is the 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 and many have also stolen. Envy is a terrible vice.
Here is the other side of the story re the envious. Envy prevents the envious from advancing in life, from reaching their own goals in life, because they focus their creative passions and imagination on their “competitor”—the object of their envy. The envious are beclouded by what their rivals are doing or what they have, thus preventing the envious from charting their own 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.
Hope you wouldn’t want to kick people from behind? Instead, may we focus on what God has called us to be; discover our own 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]
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.