Jealousy is an ugly thing
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
The toughest emotion to admit, and perhaps to deal with is jealousy. When we see someone who is treated better than we think we should be treated, or we want something someone else has, we can fine that jealousy creeps in.
And it can be hard to admit to another that we are jealous. Some fear that if they admit being jealous, they will appear weak or lacking. Admitting being jealous can even make things worse unless we also find a way to deal with jealousy. But there is an antidote to this, namely, gratitude.
This is the case because gratitude helps us to focus on what it is that we have, what is it that we should thank God for in our life. When we are jealous, it causes us to focus on what it is we do not have. And so being jealous can never feel good. It never provides a way to grow into a deeper spiritual life.
Moreover, being grateful is at the heart of Catholic spirituality, since the meaning of the word Eucharist is to give thanks. Moreover, dealing with jealousy by being grateful can indeed help us to get through the feeling be seeing that perhaps what we do not have is not really worth much at all.
Today’s readings in many ways show the harmful effects that come from being jealous. The brothers of Joseph allow their jealousy of their brother Joseph to become hatred, so bad that they will not even talk to him. So many of the troubles of the Pharisees concern not their thinking Jesus was wrong, but rather because they became jealous of the way in which he was attracting more positive faith conversions than they were.
The bottom line is that so much of our faith grows when we can strive to see the good thing and the blessings that God pours out upon us. The spiritual life is not a competition, except to outdo one another in holiness. And when we learn that holiness is what Jesus desires for us, and we can be grateful for that, then the life-giving relationship with Jesus fulfills us completely.
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