Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are You Envious Because I Am Generous

Are You Envious Because I Am Generous

August 22, 2012
Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Colleen O'Sullivan

He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you.  Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?  Take what is yours and go.  What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?  Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?  Are you envious because I am generous?’  Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  (Matthew 20:10-16)


O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
(from “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” Charles Wesley, 1739)


Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, is ugly.  It makes its appearance at a very young age.  Just go to McDonald’s or any other fast food restaurant and tune in to the conversations around you.  “Mommy, he got more French fries than I did.  It’s not fair.  You always give him more.”  “Dad, I want the toy that she got in her meal.  It’s purple.  That’s my favorite color.  It’s not fair that she got that one.” 

Envy is nothing new and adults are hardly immune to it, either.  The parable in today’s Gospel seems to reflect the situation in the early church, where the first members were Jewish, observers of the Law, God’s chosen people.  They didn’t think it was fair that the “johnny-come-lately” Gentile Christians, some of whom must have worshiped false gods and engaged in pagan practices before converting and being baptized, should be their equals in God’s eyes.  It just didn’t seem right.  They envied the seeming ease with which these newcomers squeaked into the Kingdom.

Envy makes us want other people’s spouses, other people’s possessions, or other people’s lives, because they look so much better than our own.  Envy twists our hearts until we can no longer rejoice at anyone’s good fortune or happiness.

The truth is God isn’t fair.  And we all ought to be extremely grateful for that.  I know my sins and you know yours, and I’m glad God doesn’t treat us fairly, or as we deserve.  The God we praise and worship is a God of infinite generosity.  Every time one of us is called into being, God’s heart expands with overwhelming love for us.  God forgives our sins.  God is merciful and compassionate, picking up the pieces when we stumble, showering each of us with grace.

All we have to do is open our hearts to the goodness of the Lord. 


Spend some quiet time in God’s presence today.  Look over your life and notice the many ways in which the Lord has been infinitely generous toward you with his love, mercy and forgiveness.  Thank God for all his blessings.  You’ll forget all about envying anyone else, because God’s grace is sufficient for you. 

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