Jesus had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.
What to do with someone who is jealous of you? Is there any solution to this age old sin that has inflicted humanity since the time of Cain and Abel, and maybe even earlier?
I just finished celebrating Mass at Ursuline, an all-girls school, and I was amazed to see the number of heads shaking in agreement when I told them the obvious: that jealousy is a very ugly sin. I can imagine what these kids go through on the basketball court, in the classrooms and in their friendships! I remember very well my father mentioning to me the jealousies he experienced among colleagues. It would take years for them to bring it to themselves to admit that he was an outstanding teacher.
I have to admit. I never experienced jealousy while in the work force. I know…I was very lucky. But when I became a priest, I found myself occasionally surrounded by jealous people. In one of my first ( and insignificant) positions as a priest, I took it upon myself to make our homely looking school “look” like a private Catholic academy. Through the generosity of many benefactors, I began to buy very beautiful (and expensive) picture frames and personally hung them in our hallways and corridors. I got some flak for that and could never understand why. Then I bought flat screen TV’s and game counsels and built a very modern game room for our students. Mind you, it cost the school absolutely nothing. Then I wanted to do something about our sickly looking cafeteria. I ended up getting to know one of the best architects in the nation who had some incredible ideas for turning our “cafeteria” into a “dining hall”. You would not imagine the grief I experienced when I was told that I needed to slow down to get all of this “approved”. As if improvement required “approvement”! I knew all along what the problem was. It was as clear as can be.
Well, neither personally nor publically was I ever given credit for making any of the above improvements or changes. But what really made me feel disappointed was the fact that I was not alone. It happened to others with even bigger, brighter and better accomplishments. But while some received no credit, others were given formal recognition through our newsletters and e-mails. I mentioned this fact a few years later to my former boss. I waited until he left.
Rather than thinking of the institution or the good of others, jealous people tend to frown upon doers and achievers. After all, they think that when you do “good”, you make them look bad. But it is not true. It actually makes them look very good.
I remember someone else I worked for. He didn’t like honest discussions in our meetings and so he held a strong grudge against me. He would often make decisions that were the opposite of what I recommended. His decisions turned out to be bad for our institution and his job. Later, in private, I told him, “If I had been your enemy, I would have agreed to all your proposals. I was not your enemy. I was trying to be your friend.”
Oh, the sin of jealousy!!! Instead of taking this vice by the horns and turning it into a “virtue” (to improve or motivate oneself), we prefer to sulk in it and sin because of it. St. Thomas Aquinas defined jealousy as unhappiness for someone else’s success. What a great definition! I am sure he experienced a bit of that himself.
Don’t get me wrong. We all struggle with jealousy. All of us, including myself.
In God I trust; I shall not fear (Ps. 56). In today’s first reading, David could have stabbed Saul in the back. He didn’t (Sam 19:1-7). Let us learn from David who experienced the wrath of a jealous King, but preferred to not offend the Lord by killing his lord. Let us learn from our Lord and Savior who experienced the wrath of jealous Kings and men, but preferred to not judge them but to save them.
Jealousy has been around for centuries, since the fall of man. But God has been around much longer and we can definitely trust in Him. May we turn our jealous thoughts into our very own personal improvement plan.