Friday, March 17, 2017

Green with Envy

Jealousy.  It's been affecting human kind since the fall, the prime example of which involved two boys and a rock.  It is so normalized in our society that we don't just get jealous of others, we seem to get jealous for others.   Just recently I became involved in a conversation with people about the Diaconate rule that if a Deacon's wife dies he is not allowed to remarry.  It seems people who aren't Deacons are angry of that rule, and even some men who 'used to be' Deacons have simply broken it and remarried.  The primary defense seems to be it's not fair.   One man even compared having a wife to a habit, as if she were just something he was used to being around.   Claiming that he needs that habit so he should be free to remarry... My wife not a habit my friends, she's so much more than that.   She is the other half of me... why does someone think I could replace her with another?   She's not replaceable.  If I am ordained I will gladly make the promise never to marry again, I won't want to.   I will need support from my friends, family, doctors.... You can't replace a person in your heart like that, it doesn't work that way.

In today's readings we see the results of that jealousy being played out before our eyes.  First with Joseph being sold into slavery by his own family, then with Jesus predicting his own death at the hands of the people.  The parable shows the son being killed for his inheritance, trying to take the kingdom by force.   How often we do that don't we?  Decide we know better than the Holy Spirit and the Church established and guided by Him.   "We should do it this way!" "It's not fair."  "Times have changed, so should we!"  Just this morning I read a news article about the president of a college tearing into one of the colleges own alumni in a very demeaning and derogatory fashion.  Why do we do that?   Just like the Pharisees often we don't repent of our own jealousy but instead scheme and plot our way out of it.

Just so with Lent isn't it?   We try to find ways to get around the small amount of fasting and abstinence asked of us by the church.   We humans don't like discipline at all.   Just a few Friday's out of the year and we look for ways around them, especially when it comes to a day like Saint Patrick's day.  Now don't get me wrong, I understand.  It's a celebration day, a Feast day.. but so is Sunday, right?   The problem is we don't just go back to our normal habits on those days, we tend to go overboard.   Using the day as an excuse to eat way to much, drink too much, and party!  When in reality what we should be focusing on is not what is the bare minimum I can do.. but realizing we are in the vineyard of the Lord.. the Church with it's hedge around it, and it's towers and wine press.. and the son has come to be with us... do we return to the Landowner or do we throw the Son out?

The virtue to combat envy is kindness.   It seems so simple doesn't it?  I am reminded of a simple little meme on the internet where a boy is looking into another boys bowl and complaining because he doesn't have as much.  His father takes him to the side and says "The only time you should be looking in someone else's bowl is to make sure they have enough."  Last night I came across an article where refugees from Africa were only being fed 850 calories a day.   I sometimes have that much (or twice as much) for breakfast.   Oh how many of those calories do I wear around my waist while men, women and children starve.   Lord forgive me!  That's why we need that discipline... that Lenten trio of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  To bring us back to serving Christ in the least of these...

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for Friday of the Second Week of Lent.