Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
Dearly Beloved, I wish to still dwell once again on the letter of St. James for our reflection today. James presents to us two very unfortunate vices to which we all are susceptible, jealousy and selfish ambition. For the sake of time, permit me to limit myself to just one of these two – Jealousy. There are some who equate envy to jealousy; however, there is a slight difference with jealousy being worse. We all feel jealous from time to time. Who amongst you never felt jealous? Not even for a moment? Who doesn’t know the feeling called “jealousy”. We do.
Jealousy is that strange feeling you have all over you to the extent that you become sad, you lose appetite for anything including food. You lose concentration. You begin to feel your life is no more worth it. You feel bad about yourself. It pushes you to be angry with a desire to destroy another person. It makes you tell all sorts of lies about a person, you just feel sick. You can’t do anything. Not anything.
The big question is, why do you feel this way? The underlying reason is that another person is happy for whatever reason. You are unhappy because there is another person closer to you who is happy. The good news, in the life of another person, brings so much sorrow to you. In fact, it is a terrible disease that you never wish for your worst enemy. Why do I speak this way?
I have seen people who are at various stages of cancer, very poor people who lack basic logistics to survive each day but all these people have reasons to be happy regardless of their situations. But I have never seen a jealous person who sincerely smiles and blooms with happiness. Never. Jealous people are toxic to the people around them. They can never tell you why they feel the way they do because they know the reason is insane, childish and meaningless.
Dearly beloved, also know that the people around whom we feel jealous, are the ones closest to us. Your husband or wife, your colleague at work, someone in the same classroom, someone in this same church, some group of people you seem to have certain things in common and the like. You are never jealous about people you here about in the media or celebrities we are proud of. It’s always about the person closest.
Friends, we get jealous simply because another person is offered a similar opportunity like us. We always consider such people as undeserving.
You have probably heard of the famous story of Mrs. Rose in the abyss. St. Peter took a tour over the abyss of hell with our Lord. Then looking down in one hole was a familiar face he knew. Peter called out to be sure. Are you Mrs. Rose? Then suddenly came the response, Peter is that you. Peter knew Mrs. Rose as a religious and a good person in this life before they both died. Peter tried to speak on her behalf trying to prove to the Lord that there was probably a mistake somewhere for Mrs. Rose to end up in hell.
Our Lord conceded and put down a ladder for Mrs. Rose to climb up. Mrs. Rose was about half way reaching the top when suddenly she descended to the very bottom. Then she climbed back again, she turned to look down the ladder and then went back. This happened several times till our Lord pulled back the ladder and they left. So what was happening? Any time Mrs. Rose looked back and saw others also climbing, she would get down to put them off with a stern warning that only she had been called. And she did this several times until the Lord pulled back the ladder.
Even when she had a last chance to get to heaven, Mrs. Rose was much more concerned about those who were not called but trying to make it. She was prepared to lose heaven if that meant no other, including herself, would make it. You think it makes sense?
Yet another reason why we get jealous is about hearing the good news about another person. This can be your best friend, your biological sister or brother, someone you work with. There is a story in the book of 1Sam 18, King Saul was a happy king till he had a report of some women praising David. Then everything changed. He swore to kill David, and not because David said or did anything to him, but rather because the king heard others speaking good about his own servant.
There is also a jealousy we feel when we cannot control the happiness of some people around us. An example is in a relationship or marriage when a man sees his woman just talking and laughing together with another man. Such a simple act may bring all kinds of bad feelings to the other partner, just because you are happy together with another person and not him. Some mistake such attitude for love. Let me be honest with you. If you or your partner is overly jealous and is always suspicious “without reason”, it is not love but sickness and sin that must be dealt with.
Dearly beloved, do not entertain jealousy in any form or whatsoever. Someone analyze that many of the sins we indulge in at least give us some instant pleasure and gratification even when it is false and short lived. Jealousy on the other hand has no such moment of pleasure but rather self- destruction throughout.
How do you rid yourself from Jealousy? Our Lord’s command from today’s gospel is a good place to start.
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Think about it any time you feel jealous. If only you can be humble and accept to put that person first, or be the servant of that person, you will overcome jealousy.
You can also overcome jealousy by Believing and affirming your self-worth. You are who God says you are and not what you have. You possessions and abilities do not define who you are. Be happy that you are a child of God.
Seek Counseling while there is still time. If you or your partner is overly jealous, plan to seek help professionally. This goes also to young people who are starting a relationship.
Above all, James admonishes, whatever you need, pray to God about it. Know also that God will not grant anything that is not in his ultimate plan for your life; therefore, appreciate and learn to celebrate the various moments in the lives of people around you.