The readings for this post can be found by clicking here.
Generally speaking people do not admit when they are jealous. Somehow, we learn early that this feeling is something unpleasant and not to be acknowledged. This leads, at its worst, to horrible actions. People in relationships can cause harm to others when they are jealous. People who are jealous can waste so much energy thinking about something they do not have. Jealousy is usually accompanied by feelings of anger, envy, and frustration. Put simply, jealousy is simply a miserable emotion.
We see this difficult emotion play out with bad actions in today’s first reading. It is not the case the apostles are posing a threat to order and security. They are not stealing from people. In fact, they are performing miraculous cures and teaching the people about this risen Jesus who has changed their lives. And people are believing them. But the Sanhedrin arrests them not for any bad action, but out of jealousy. The message the apostles proclaim is drawing believers away from the Sanhedrin. So the members of the Sanhedrin throw them in jail.
The preaching of the Apostles is not at their own initiative, however. They are acting and speaking as men filled with the Holy Spirit. And this same Holy Spirit frees them from jail for the sake of the preaching. In fact, if the Acts of the Apostles were to be summed up in a sentence, it would be this: There is just no stopping the Holy Spirit.
We may not always think much about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this is lamented, as if the Holy Spirit in some way is offended if we focus too much on the Father or on the Son. Far from it. If we have an easier time praying to the Father, then the Son and the Spirit rejoice. If the Son helps us to grow deeper in our relationship, then the Father and the Spirit rejoice. The same is true for those who focus on the Spirit. The Father and the Son rejoice.
This is because the Trinity is not a competition. The Trinity is that perfect community of three persons in one God. And so it is that when we relate with Father, Son, or Spirit, God rejoices. Moreover, this perfect community has one purpose: to call us to faith. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Jealousy causes us to focus on what we do not have. When we are jealous, we are unfree. Buddhism reflects this in the notion of desire. Having what we do not have (like an illness) or not having what we want (like a material possession) causes suffering. Today’s gospel challenges us to focus on what we do have: the eternal and profound love of God.