REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
August 19, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:15
The more we focus on our blessings as God’s children, the easier it becomes to reject selfish, envious thoughts and behavior. May God’s generosity and great love for us allow us to see more clearly what it means to build up the kingdom of God on earth by acting more lovingly toward others.
Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard, who receive the same pay regardless of the hour they began work. Those who worked the most hours grumble at the generosity of the vineyard owner.
The Bible reference above comes from the parable of the landowner who hired workers at five different times during the day. The first were hired at dawn, the second at 9 a.m., the others at noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Those hired at dawn worked about twelve hours and those hired at 5 p.m. worked only an hour. The “problem” was that the owner paid all the workers the same amount as if they all worked a full twelve hour day.
At first, this experience would tempt anyone to envy. Envy is a sort of sadness or anger at the good fortune of others. Perhaps we can all understand the envy of those who put in a full day. They worked for the full twelve hours and received their full pay. But they were envious because those who worked only an hour were treated by the landowner with much generosity receiving a full day’s wage.
Try to put yourself into this parable and reflect upon how you would experience this generous action of the landowner toward others. Would you see his generosity and rejoice for those treated so well? Would you be grateful for them because they were given this special gift? Or would you, too, find yourself envious and upset. In all honesty, most of us would struggle with envy in this situation.
But that realization is a grace. It’s a grace to become aware of that ugly sin of envy. Even if we are not actually put into the position of acting upon our envy, it’s a grace to see that it’s there within.
Reflect, today, upon whether you see any traces of envy within your heart. Can you sincerely rejoice and be filled with much gratitude at the success of others? Can you sincerely be grateful to God when others are blessed with the unexpected and unwarranted generosity of others? If this is a struggle, then at least thank God that you are made aware of this. Envy is a sin, and it’s a sin that leaves us dissatisfied and sad. You should be grateful you see it because that is the first step in overcoming it.
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.