ENVY


“‘…Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense (ἐσκανδαλίζοντο) at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” (Mk 6: 3-5)

Many of the people in Nazareth reacted with envy when Jesus visited His hometown with His disciples, when He was already famous for His much talked-about miracles and wisdom. They were envious, and hence they were blind to Christ.

Here’s the ugly truth about envy, a pain one feels because of a desire to have the advantage(s) of another. We are most likely to feel it towards one of our own; neighbors, friends, or even relatives. “Envy” derives from the Latin “invidia,” meaning “non sight.” It is a blindness to “the whole picture” of myself and others as we really are, in God’s sight. He sees us with all our true potential, limitations, sacrifices, gifts, and so on, which make up each person’s unique vocation and journey. But envy makes me focus on some external aspect of another’s life, as well as some perceived inadequacy in my own life, drawing a comparison in an imagined competition. It distracts me from the true challenges and opportunities given uniquely to me, by setting my sights on this delusion of competition. Envy blocks out gratitude and joy for my own gifts and those of others, and prevents me from growing and learning from them. It can cripple both the envious and the object of envy, because envy is “neutralized” by diminishing the object of envy. Thus Christ diminishes Himself in Nazareth, to neutralize the envy of His countrymen.

Today let me embrace gratitude, being mindful of my own gifts and challenges, as well as of the gifts and challenges of others. May the Lord help and enlighten me to see as He sees, and protect me from the delusions of envy.

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