THE MANY MASKS OF ENVY
“And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy (διὰ φθόνον) that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead.” (Mk 15: 3-11)
A while ago I reflected on “envy” (from the Latin “invidia,” i.e., “non sight”), a blindness that occurs from the desire to have what someone else has. But now here it is, once again. The chief priests masked their envy, accusing Christ “of many things.” Christ gives no answer to these charges, because they are masks.
Envy tends to mask its ugly face, which is why it is sometimes hard to detect, both for the envied and the envious. It can be masked in a political ideology, or in righteous indignation, as it is here, in the case of the chief priests, who pretend to be protecting ancient traditions and structures. It can conversely be masked in flattery and even infatuation, attempting to get close to the envied and thus acquire what he/she has “by association.” This can be the basis of stalking celebrities, and then quietly rejoicing over their “fall” in some scandal.
Today let me get in touch with God in grateful prayer, at least a bit, and also take time for some self-examination, in His light. Because His grace, His divine energies, bring me the ability to see myself and others as He sees us; not in competition with one another, but as unique persons with unique journeys, each with his/her own challenges and blessings. “Thy will be done,” I say today, with me and with others, on our cross-carrying journeys.