Day Twenty-Eight: Envy or Joy?

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Envy is a form of sadness or bitterness experienced when we perceive good qualities or possessions in others, especially if we lack them. It is closely linked to jealousy, which is a selfish desire for what another person has or a fear of losing what we possess. These sins lead to slander, judgmentalness, and gossip, and produce a disordered pleasure if we see them fail, or do not get something we want.

For those who are worldly and struggle with the love of money, material possessions, or status, envy will often lead to an obsession over what another enjoys. This form of envy is a double sin, in that the objects of their envy are unhealthy attachments. This worldly form of envy is often rooted in a lack of contentment with one’s own state in life. A misplaced value on the passing things of this world will inevitably lead to this more base form of envy. There will always be someone who has more, is more successful, or is more highly honored.

The cure for this form of envy is to put our priorities in right order, seeking first the Kingdom of God and the riches of Heaven. Many things we envy are unworthy of being envied. Conquering unhealthy attachments and desires will help free us from envying foolish things.

Envy can also be on a spiritual level. Those who love God and seek to serve His will might see others as holier than they are or more spiritually fruitful. They might see some beautiful virtue in another, a successful apostolate, or a God-given charism. Rather than rejoice, they resent not being recognized for what they themselves have done.

The cure for spiritual envy is genuine joy, kindness, gratitude, charity, and respect for every person. When we see others’ holy virtues, we must rejoice and give thanks to God. We must admire those virtues and humbly seek to imitate them. When we encounter saintly people, we must understand that we are “on the same team,” so to speak. Those who conquer envy will go out of their way to encourage others, to thank them, and to give praise to God for His grace alive in their lives. When someone fails, we must have heartfelt compassion for that person, refrain from rash judgment, offer mercy, and consider ways we can help.

From the Cross, Jesus said to the good thief, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). This statement provides insight into overcoming envy. Jesus’ incredible generosity toward one who was sinful should inspire us to have the same desire. If we can long for every soul to be with God forever in Heaven, then when we see their goodness, we will be consoled and rejoice, rather than become sad or jealous.

Ponder the ugly sin of envy today, but do so by turning your eyes to the spiritual riches of Heaven. If others manifest those spiritual riches, know that God can also bestow His abundant gifts upon you. Rejoice in the goodness of others, pray that you can learn from them, and thank God for the good witness they give.

My generous Lord, You bestow Your blessings in superabundance upon those who love You and serve Your holy will. Free me from every form of envy in life, and give me a genuine love for every way You are alive in others. When I see others’ virtues, fill me with a holy joy and gratitude so that I will be an encouragement to those whom You have placed in my life to jointly fulfill Your divine mission. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Twenty-Eight: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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