September 19, 2021
Electricity went off at 6:00 AM on Sunday. All four corners. Even the traffic signal until a backup system was activated. Colors are indicators: red to stop, yellow for caution and green to go! But there is a negative connotation that comes with the color “green” – you have “green eyes” – sick with envy and jealousy. Our three readings today speak of the negative impact of envy and jealousy. In the Book of Wisdom, wicked men, full of envy and jealousy, attack a just man. In the Letter of St. James, the author writes about jealousy and envy within the believing community that can lead to conflict and war. In our Gospel, Jesus is attempting to explain to his disciples that the Son of Man must suffer and die and give up his life. When they reach Capernaum, Jesus asks: “What were you arguing about?” They remain silent. The disciples are discussing who is the greatest and closest to Jesus. They totally miss the lesson of Jesus on sacrificial love and service.
We use envy and jealousy interchangeably but there is a difference. Envy is desiring what another person has. Jealousy is wanting to keep what you have and worrying about a rival, someone, taking it away. There can be a positive dimension to envy and jealousy, that is, desiring or wanting to hold onto what is precious, true, beautiful, and good. In the Bible, God has jealousy for the Jewish people.
Envy and jealousy are capital or deadly sins. They drain life, joy, and peace from our souls. In the Middle Ages it was said that envy and jealousy are a fast lane to hell even before we die. Envy and jealousy rob us of happiness.
The antidote, the healing remedy, for envy and jealousy is following Jesus, his example, and listening to his teaching. Gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit will lessen the grip of these dark inclinations within us.
To counter envy, desiring what we perceive others to have, we pray for God’s grace to activate the virtue of gratitude in us for all we do have. Each day we should recount our blessings and live with an attitude of appreciation. Thanksgiving is the heart of Eucharist. As the German mystic Master Eckhart said: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
The antidotes for jealousy are generosity and confidence. Generosity will lessen the dark impulse to possess the relationships or things we value. Nurturing confidence in ourselves, we will diminish the perception of others as threats or rivals.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to others, like the disciples, and compare ourselves to Jesus. The disciples are jockeying for position and privilege. Jesus places a child in their midst. In the ancient world, children were seldom noticed, having no rights or status. The child is like women, servants, and slaves – the property of men. A possession! Jesus turns the societal structures upside down. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” We are called to be “childlike” trusting in God and recognizing our lowly circumstance. The greatest is last and the servant of all. When we welcome a child, we welcome Jesus.
“Assumption” is an odd name for a feast. Our English word “assumption” can mean “a statement, fact, or idea accepted as true without proof.” It can also mean “to take for oneself or as one’s right or privilege.” Both meanings of “assumption” apply to the Marry. We take as true that Mary was assumed or taken into heaven after her death. We also underst... READ MORE
Elijah is escaping the wrath of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He flees into the desert. Exhausted and depressed he cries out: “This is enough, O Lord!” He falls asleep. An angel of God touches him and orders him to drink from a jug of water and eat a hearth cake. Again, it happens a second time. The bread and water will sustain Elijah for forty days and nights as he jou... READ MORE
On Thursday July 29 we celebrated the feast of St. Martha of Bethany – sister of Mary and Lazarus. Martha is remembered in the Gospel according to Luke as busy preparing food in the kitchen while Mary is seated among the disciples listening to Jesus. Martha and Mary represent two human needs – nourishment of body and soul. Last Sunday Jesus fed the hungry multitude wit... READ MORE
When I was chaplain of St. Jude Chapel, Alfred NY we had scheduled a Mass and memorial service for a well known and respected professor at the University. After the service, so many people came down to the lounge for the reception (a buffet prepared by parishioners) that my reasonable assumption was: "Not enough food!" The son of the professor we were honoring happened to ... READ MORE
There are times in our lives when we need to talk about what has happened, to find words to describe the experience and to share it with someone. We see examples of this with covid-19 healthcare providers in emergency rooms and ICUs, with firefighters battling fires out West, with search and rescue workers at the condo in Surfside, Florida. These conversations occur in sup... READ MORE