Envy: Cause of Division

Envy finds a home in many hearts and is the cause of many divisions within a family…

Newsdesk (14/11/2023 15:24, Gaudium Press ) In Holy Scripture we are warned about a vice that causes real disasters in the human soul and sometimes great division within a family: envy.

How can we overcome this vice? How do we confront it?

My thoughts are not yours…

In the book of the prophet Isaiah God exhorts the chosen people, saying: “My thoughts are not like your thoughts, and your ways are not like my ways. My ways are as much higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, as the heavens than the earth” (cf. Is 55:8).

Why does God address such harsh and severe words to the people?

If we analyse the journey of the Hebrew people in the Old Testament, we’ll see that they were easily drawn into all kinds of pagan customs that led them to commit iniquity, for which God punished them. However, after God had chastised them, they would ask for forgiveness and repent of their faults.

Nonetheless, this journey of the fall and rise of the Jewish people was repeated countless times…  So what caused it?

When man lives on the basis of selfishness, putting his heart where it doesn’t belong, there is no sin he cannot commit. And one of them is envy.

Envy of the good of others

The Gospel of Matthew tells the parable of the master who hired employees to work in his vineyard. He called some in the morning, others in the afternoon, and others at the end of the day. He promised them all a silver coin. When he paid the wages, the master gave the same amount to everyone, as he had promised them. However, some of the employees, driven by envy, revolted because, having worked all day, they thought they deserved more than the others who had been hired after them.

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The master, for his part, replied that he had every right to give everyone what they wanted (cf. Mt 20:1-15), and concluded:

“The last shall be first, and the first shall be last” (Mt 20:16).

So what is envy? This vice “is the disordered appetite for one’s own excellence,” and “one of the most vile and repugnant sins that can be committed.” It causes man to feel sad about the good of others, a sorrow in his heart that is not satisfied until the other person is unsuccessful or even ruined and destroyed. The good of another person is imputed to him “as if it were a blow struck at his superiority.” From this pitiful and repugnant vice, malice, slander, hatred, quarrels and so many other sins spring from the human heart, being the root of many divisions in one’s own family and among friends.

The virtue of Charity

In this vein, it is not surprising that today’s society is particularly tainted by this vice, as it places ‘self’ as the prime objective in this world. If it knew that peace of soul can only be found in the willingness to desire the good of one’s neighbour, rejoicing and praising God for His gracious, hierarchical and gratuitous benevolence, many intrigues would be dispelled…

Therefore, it is up to us to ask God for an increase in the virtue of Charity, so that we can exclaim like St. Paul: “Charity is patient, charity is kind. It does not envy. Charity is not proud. It is not arrogant. Nor is it scandalous. It does not seek its own interests, it does not get angry, nor hold grudges. It does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It forgives all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).

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By Guilherme Motta

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan


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