by Fr Richard Heilman | March 19, 2022 12:44 PM
“Freedom from Jealously” by Fr. James Altman
Dear family, let us ponder the root cause of jealousy. It’s called being human. From the beginning, humanity has always been susceptible to its grip. Humanity is prone to jealousy because – remember this now, it’s so basic and fundamental – nothing ever is enough.
Think of what I call The Life Lesson of Adam and Eve. They lived in paradise! They essentially had everything, and they did not have sickness and death, so they could have enjoyed everything forever! I like this part: they had dominion over the animals. They did not have to fear a lion or a shark. If they were trying to take a nap – I’m sleep deprived, so this is a very meaningful example for me – if they were trying to take a nap and the lion was getting all growly making noise, all they had to do was to tell it to get lost. They. Had. Everything. Except one piddly dumb tree. And yet, having everything wasn’t enough. Human nature kicked in. Lucifer understood human nature. What did he do? He tempted Adam and Eve not with more of everything, but only with the one thing.
The same goes for us, dear family. The devil does not come in with a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you ever wished for.
Here is a true story about human nature from psychology. Fill a room full of toys…chuck full of toys. Then put one kid in the middle of it. Like the proverbial “kid in a candy store,” the kid can pick and choose whatever he wants. He’s happy. Couldn’t be happier. Then … introduce another kid. Put another kid in the room, a second kid. He looks around at all the toys and picks one for himself. What happens? The first kid gets jealous. He thinks along the lines of “I must have not chosen the best one for myself because that kid over there chose that one.” Even though the first kid was perfectly happy playing all by himself, when that second kid comes in and chooses a different toy, the first kid just has to have it!
Adam and Eve. Two kids in a toy room. Both have a form of jealousy. The Cambridge Dictionary defines jealousy as “a feeling of unhappiness and anger because someone has something or someone that you want.” We might readily understand this and apply it to the two kids in the toy room. But what about Adam and Eve? They were jealous of something God had, or at least what Lucifer told them God had.
Remember Lucifer’s damnable lie: He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden?’” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil” (Gen 3:1-5).
How often do such words poison our own thought processes? How often do we turn our eyes away from what we have toward something someone else has? How often do we compare and despair?
Dear family, there is a secret to peace and tranquility. It is easy to say, though perhaps, at times, especially at a time of seeming deprivation, it is hard to do. The secret is this: to be happy, you must be happy for what you do have, and not unhappy for what you do not have.
Our humanity is poisoned by a compulsion to compare and despair. Looking back, at various times I thought I wanted to be a champion tennis player, a very wealthy person, or a rock star, maybe live on some island in the Caribbean. Ultimately the wants came from comparing and despairing over such things as the fact that I was growing up in a snow-belt where the tennis courts were buried for 2/3 of the year. Would I have been happy and content and at peace if I had attained any of those things? No. The Life Lesson of Adam and Eve proves not. Nothing ever is enough. My parents tried to teach this to me, saying such things as “there always will be someone with more ____” – just fill in the blank. Even if we accept this as truth, it still is hard to come to terms with the proposition that someone else has more of something.
There is only one way to overcome jealousy, and that is to discover that God is in love with you. Wholly and completely in love…with you. Yes, yes, we know: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Nowadays, most people do not even believe in God, much less that He loves them personally, much less that He sent His Divine Son to die for us. So instead, let us focus on another Johannine verse: “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Dear family, St. John, the beloved apostle saw the glory of Jesus, full of grace and truth. That is why he could write to us: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:1-4).
Notice, St. John did not say his joy would be complete if he had a new car or a house on the beach. He certainly did not say his joy would be complete if he had dominion over the animals. St. John’s joy only would be complete if he shared the glory of Jesus, His Grace, His Truth.
Dear family, that is the only way we ever will be happy. If jealousy pangs strike, understand we are not happy for what we have, but unhappy for what we do not have. But God has given us all we need to be happy…Himself. That is why He came in the first place. To give us that only thing. Himself. So, the next time jealousy rears its ugly, Luciferian head – and that is indeed where jealousy originates – turn your eyes upon Jesus. Turn them upon His Holy Cross. Ponder the infinite love poured out in every drop of blood, in every struggling breath … unto His last drop of blood and His last breath.
Take your eyes off whatever tree Lucifer points you to, whatever forbidden fruit with which he taunts you, and as the hymn goes: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things, the things of earth, will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.” (From “Let Freedom Ring“)
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