One of the most damaging and tormenting vices is, surely, jealousy. Jealousy arouses suspicion, depicts other people as evil and tries to control everyone and everything. In other words, jealousy goes against loving care.
A powerful meditation on the destructive dynamic of jealousy is given by Cardinal Antonio Bacci (1881-1971), when he speaks of rush judgment. This wise Cardinal says:
Rash judgements are sometimes formed quite thoughtlessly. At other times they are produce of malice, envy, pride or hatred. Even when they are lightly arrived at, they are sinful because they are opposed to the law of charity. When they are the result of one of the passions mentioned, they are far more gravely sinful because, they presuppose the intention of injuring our neighbour. Rash judgements like this, rarely remain enclosed in the mind but are expressed openly, with consequent damage to the character of the victim!
On his part, Pope Francis also gives a very good picture of what jealousy is all about. In his morning Mass meditation at Casa Santa Marta, on 21 January 2016, the feast of Saint Agnes, Pope Francis said:
Envy kills. It does not tolerate others having something that I do not have. And it always suffers, because the heart of an envious or jealous person suffers. It is a suffering heart!” It is a suffering that desires the death of others. “But how many times, in our communities – and we don’t have to look too far to see this – are people killed, through jealousy, with the tongue? Someone is envious of this, of the other, and they begin to gossip – and gossip kills.
How ugly envy is! it is an attitude, it is an ugly sin. And jealousy or envy grows in the heart like a weed: it grows, but it doesn’t allow good plants to grow. It harms everything that its shadow seems to fall upon. There is no peace! It is a tormented heart, it is an ugly heart! But the envious heart, too – we hear it here – leads to killing, to death. And Scripture says clearly: through the envy of the devil, death entered the world.
I too … invite myself, and everyone, to see if, in my heart, there is any jealousy, any envy, which always leads to death and doesn’t make me happy; because this sickness always leads us to regard the good others possess as if it were against us. And this is an ugly sin. It is the beginning of many, many crimes. Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace not to open the heart to jealousy, not to open the heart to envy, because these things always lead to death.
How can we get rid of jealousy? This most deplorable vice which eats us away and be a continual source of anxiety? First, let us cultivate a spirit of gratitude. Let us be grateful for the talents God has, is and will give us. Second, let us shift our attention from any envious thoughts. If we pray a hail Mary, thank God for something or someone He has given us in our lives, do something good for others help. Third, let us remind ourselves that all people are our dear brothers and sisters and that all good things emanate from God. Thus, at seeing good in others let us praise God for his goodness towards us since these good qualities enrich us as one human family. Fourth, try to see the good others as model to imitate. Let us see these people as part of God’s gift to you. Their presence can encourage your life. Fifth, let us remember what Jesus had done for us. Hence, during our prayer time let us ask God to help us discover that we are loved and valued by God infinitely. This helps us heal from our insecurity.
All these steps have a name, fraternal charity. This will enable us to rejoice in the other’s success and become ever more grateful to God for what they have achieved. We are constantly challenged to keep focusing on the gifts God has given us. This helps us to be more happy in our lives.
To start a process of healing from the sin of jealousy, which makes us sad and dissatisfied, let us pray sincerely this prayer to God:
Lord, I do sin and I honestly admit I have some envy in my heart. Thank you for helping me to see this and help me to now surrender that over. Please replace it with a sincere gratitude for the abundant grace and mercy You bestow on others. Jesus, I trust in You.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap