Aug. 17, 2016

Envy is your real enemy, not he/she

"Why should you be envious because I am generous?" (Matt.20:16)

The worst times I have been most unproductive are the times I concentrated on another person's talents. I'm sure you too. Why be envious, Christ asks his laborers in the scripture today? It is important to be watchful of the harm which envy can cause in our lives.

In the parable of the laborers called into the vineyard, Christ gives a graphic picture of heaven. The landowner goes out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He enters into agreement with them on their wage. He goes out again at the third hour and hires another set. The same thing he does at the sixth hour, ninth hour and eleventh hour, with the promise to give all "a fair wage". God is the landowner who co-opts each one into his vineyard. Saint Gregory the Great describes the the contracts as follows: "The morning indeed was from Adam to the time of Noah, the third hour from the time of Noah to the time of Abraham, the sixth from the time of Abraham to the time of Moses, the ninth from the time of Moses to the coming of the Lord; and the eleventh is from the coming of the Lord to the end of the world. In this period the holy apostles, who received a full reward even though they came late, have been sent as preachers". Meanwhile, two things stood out in the Master's calling into his vineyard: his generosity and his gift of talents to those called.

Saint Paul points out that each individual called has been given his own gift for service to the same Lord. He puts it this way, "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (1Cor.12:8-11). Each individual needs only to recognize his gift and use it accordingly.

Having paid the laborers in the scripture their wages, the first-comers were uncomfortable that they were rewarded equally by the master. They were envious. They grumbled, "The men who came last have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us". That's the problem- "...and you have treated them as us". They are not you, so why bother about how they are treated. Concentrate on "you" and "you" alone, leave "they" out. Is your wage just? Is it in agreement?

Many relationships have been messed up today because of envy. Many friendships have been ruined because of envy. Many families have crumbled because of envy. One is unhappy when another flourishes. One is sad because another is more prosperous. In class, I am unhappy because my friend does better in a subject than me. I resort to bullying. In business, he is smarter than me, so I am envious. In church he seems more religious/spiritual and that makes me uncomfortable. I think she is physically more beautiful and perhaps admired more, so I am envious. People seem to like him more than me. The boss at work brings him closer than me. I am envious. Sometimes, I resort to conspiracy and calumny. I begin to hate him/her. The Lord asks you today, "Why be envious?".

Think about it; she/he is not your enemy. Your enemy is ENVY. It blindfolds you. It makes you insensitive to your abilities. It makes you unsettled, unhappy and unproductive. It is eating you up. You need to discover your capabilities, and use them. You cannot do that if you let envy take the better of you. Otherwise you will be like the biblical saying, "The last will be first, and the first, last" (Matt.20:16).