Matthew 20:1-16, Wednesday of 20th Week in Ordinary Time
One Jesuit priest told us, “If you want to be sad, start comparing.” I agree. For when we start comparing ourselves with others, we discover that others are always better than us. It is here where envy breeds.
When envy finds a home in us, we slowly drift into the dark pit of unhappiness, insecurity and resentment. And when envy roots itself in our hearts, we become experts in counting the blessings of others, but not ours. We see the potential of others, but not ours. We conclude that we are always losers, second class citizens or tail-enders. This is indeed self-defeating and destructing. And the evil loves it.
Then the domino effect follows. Because of envy, we fail to rejoice with the victory of others. Because of envy, we fail to appreciate the talents and fortune given to others. Because of envy, we become self-centered and less other-oriented. Because of envy, we start crying, “Life is unfair!” Then, we slowly dissociate ourselves from others, and worse, we see others as rivals in everything.
It is good to note that even during the time of Jesus, envying the good fortune of others was already an issue. When the labourers in the vineyard who had worked for only an hour received the usual daily wage, everybody complained about it. They felt cheated by the owner. They cried out, “It’s unfair!”
But the owner of the vineyard said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why should you be envious because I am generous?” It was an eye-opener to those who shouted out unfair.
The question is: What will be your reaction if you are one of those who worked for an hour and benefited from the generosity of the owner? Will you react violently? Or just keep quiet?
Here’s something to reflect on: If we are the direct beneficiary of someone’s generosity or privilege, we don’t see it as unfair. We remain silent. But if the beneficiary is not us but someone else, we feel cheated and cry out loud, “It’s unfair! There’s a favouritism here!”
When someone is in love, envy will never be an issue. For when one is in love, he will always think of the good of others. He will be happier when others, especially those who are less fortunate, receive more than themselves.
So what’s envy after all? Envy is our inability to rejoice with God for the blessings He has generously given to others.