21 January 2010

Being Green

Nowadays we hear a lot about how good it is to "go green." Indeed, it is always a good thing to make environmentally-sound choices. Today's first reading, however, reveals a different way to "go green" which is much less desirable.

Many people are rather embarrassed when they notice jealousy -- or envy -- rising in their hearts. And with good reason. If envy is a kind of sadness at the good-fortune of another person, then jealousy might be thought of as a kind of envy which runs a bit deeper in that it seeks to guard possessively that which we already have. We may be jealous when a friend of ours spends time with other friends: in that case, we guard the friendship as though we owned it. Envy, on the other hand, usually has to do with what someone else has, rather than something we already have. We might be envious of the gifted singing voice of another person: in this case, we are sad that we do not have what we admire in another person.

In today's first reading we are told that Saul is jealous of David. Saul, no doubt, was jealous because he feared that David would take his place on the throne. It is likely, too, that Saul was also envious of how the women praised David in their song. Jealousy and envy are very difficult vices to uproot. Brute force alone cannot tear out the long-winding roots of these afflictions. Love, however, can free us from their power. If we are honest enough to recognize when we sense jealousy or envy springing up in our souls, we can make an effort to be kind to the person of whom we are jealous. This can be difficult, but it is a powerful remedy for an age-old affliction. Small acts of kindness -- beginning with a smile and maybe a courteous greeting -- can stop the spread of jealousy or envy in the heart of one who sincerely desires to be rid of this affliction. Like weeds after a rainstorm, the ugly and unwanted thoughts of jealousy and envy will be dislodged easily if we treat the object of our jealousy with kindness. This is not easy, but it is good. Very good.

"Very few people are free of envy, however spiritual they may be. And the more spiritual they are, so much more the subtle and imperceptible is the envy."
St. Francis de Sales

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