Today’s readings feature two stories of envy, one real, the other a parable. In the first reading from Genesis 27 we see the story of Joseph. His father, Israel “loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age.” Naturally, the brothers didn’t much like this. They were filled with envy, so they plotted to kill him.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 21, Jesus tells a parable about a landowner and his tenants. The landowner sends his servants to obtain his produce, but the tenants beat and killed them. So the landowner sent his son, thinking they would respect him. But they killed him as well.
To help understand envy better, I'll share the chapter on Envy from A Minute in the Church: Back to the Basics.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church covers envy in its section on the tenth commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. “Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods, and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin: St. Augustine saw envy as ‘the diabolical sin.’ ‘From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his poverty.’” (CCC 2539)
So envy causes us not only to desire another’s possessions, it causes us to wish their destruction as well. Envy is, therefore, different from jealousy. Jealousy, while not good, can incite one to positive action, seeking to acquire a thing by just means. So envy is dangerous, indeed. The Book of Wisdom says, “By the envy of the Devil, death entered the world.” (Wisdom 2:24)
The Catechism goes on: “Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility.” (CCC 2540) And, “The tenth commandment requires that envy be banished from the human heart.” (CCC 2538)
The remedy for envy is the virtue of kindness. The Catechism tells us, “The baptized person combats envy through good-will, humility, and abandonment to the providence of God.” (CCC 2554)
Father, keep our hearts from envy. May we always desire the best for others. Amen.
A Minute in the Church: Back to the Basics has sections on the Seven Deadly Sins, the Ten Commandments, the Seven Sacraments and much more. Order yours today at www.GusLloyd.com.