The Jews Filled with Jealousy

Author: Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA

The Jews Filled with Jealousy

Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA

05/05/2007 - 4th Week of Easter Saturday
7am – PCPA - Hanceville, AL

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is taken from ch. 13: 44-52. This is a portion of the bigger passage when Paul and Barnabas preach in Antioch of Pisidia. Just one verse before today’s passage, St. Luke tells us that: “Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism end up following Paul and Barnabas.” They end up following the New Life, the Way of Christ!

The Gospel tells us today: “When the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy and contradicted what was spoken by Paul and reviled him.”

The Jews were jealous at the success of Paul’s and Barnabas’ preaching! The Jews were saddened by Paul’s & Barnabas’ success!

That’s the definition of jealous in a nut-shell form:

— not happy at someone’s success!
— or happy at someone’s failures!

The Catechism states (cf. 2539 - 2540): Jealousy or envy is a capital sin. Capital sin is basically a sin that leads to other sins. Jealousy or envy refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and it refers to the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even if it means acquiring them unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin.

St. Augustine saw envy or jealousy as “the diabolical sin” because

— from envy born hatred;
— from envy born detraction (detraction is basically telling the truth about someone’s character to another who has no right for the information);
— from envy born calumny (calumny is basically telling lies about someone’s character to another in order to ruin or destroy that other person’s character or reputation);
— from envy born joy caused by the misfortune of another;
— from envy born displeasure caused by the misfortune of another;
— from envy born displeasure caused by the misfortune of a neighbor.

Envy represents a form of sadness and because of it, one refused to be charitable to one’s neighbor. Jealousy or envy is a trace or a reflection of the Ancient Serpent, Lucifer, who wanted to be like God or who wanted to be greater than God.

Our holy father St. Francis says: “When a man envies his brother for the good that God says or does through him, it is like committing a sin of blasphemy, because he is really envying God, Who is the only source of every good.”

We at times, unfortunately, have fallen to be envious or jealous. We at times have blasphemed God as St. Francis defined envy. We at times have rejoiced because of someone’s failures or have been saddened because of someone’s success. We at times have offended God through the sin of envy or jealousy. We offended Him Who deserves all our love. We scourged, spit upon Him, and crucified Him through the sin of envy.

The Lord seeks our repentance and our conversion. He has prayed to the Father on our behalf that we’d be forgiven because we know not what we’re doing! All we need is to respond to His love; to respond by confessing our sins in His Tribunal of Mercy — Confession. All we need is to confess and trust in His Mercy and in His Infinite Goodness of His love for us!

We are not to become discouraged by our wretchedness but to trust that with God’s grace, we shall eventually overcome all of our wickedness and sinfulness.

The Saints were not always perfect during their lifetime. They struggled with the similar things we struggled with today (cf. Saintly Solutions by Esper, 97-102):

— St. Augustine wrote in his Confession that when he was a boy, he was jealous of the attention his younger brother received from his mother, St. Monica.

— St. Martha was busy serving in the kitchen. Her sister was listening to Jesus at His feet. Martha had a touch of envy toward her sister. She was a little jealous toward Mary because she’s not doing anything to help her. She was a little jealous toward Mary because she didn’t get to listen to Jesus as much as Mary was doing.

— St. Peter too had fallen into envy. After His resurrection, Our Lord appeared to some of His Apostles at the Sea of Galilee. And there He gave Peter the opportunity to erase his triple denial with a triple profession of his love for Christ.

I had the great blessing and opportunity last week of visiting this very site in the Holy Land where Jesus commanded Peter to “feed His lambs” three times. It was a very moving experience for me to read that Gospel passage for our pilgrim group who came with me at the Church of the Primacy in Tiberias which is the very site that passage took place historically.

At the end of that passage, Jesus told Peter what kind of death he was to glorify God. Then Peter was a little jealous toward John that he complained to Jesus: “What about this man?” Jesus said: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” Your job is simply to follow Me.

“St. John Vianney warned that ‘whoever is envious is proud’ — for when we improperly desire something God has not made available to us, we in our pride act as if we know better than the Lord. The sins of pride and envy go hand-in-hand — but, seen positively, this means that our efforts to remain humble can help us fight against two capital sins at once. Humility, of course, means seeking God’s glory instead of our own, and one very practical way of doing this is to rejoice in other people’s good fortune... (Esper, 99-100).”

He also suggests: “If we are tempted to thoughts of envy against our neighbor, far from letting him see it by our cold manner, we must go out of our way to be friendly and do him any service that lies in our power (Esper, 100).”

St. John Chrysostom: “Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother’s progress, and you will immediately give glory to God. Because His servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised (Esper, 101).”

God of all generosity, Source of every blessing and gift: help us conquer the tendency to envy the good fortune of others. Remove this vice that is rooted deeply within us, and replace it with a genuine satisfaction over the success of those around us. May we always remember that, in loving You, we are rich beyond all measure; may we always trust that You will provide us with everything we need. Please bless all those who, at any time and in any way, have been the victims of our envy and displeasure, and please give us a proper spirit of gratitude for all Your gifts. May Your name be praised forever and ever. Amen (Esper, 101).