March 17, 2017
Friday, Lent Week Two
Hope in Times of Trouble
The Responsorial (Psalm 105) gives a simple remedy to many troubles: “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.”
If we pay attention to the Liturgy of the Word, we will hear enough of those marvels to be able to remember some when we need to.
Genesis 37: 3-28 shows us what envy can do. And what God can do in spite of it. Envy is more than jealousy. Jealousy is to want something another has. Envy is to hate so much the fact the other has what I don’t that I don’t want the other to have it either.
Joseph’s brothers were envious. They hated the fact he enjoyed more love from their father than they did. Enough to stop it by killing him. But they weren’t completely evil. Reuben delayed the killing, hoping to rescue Joseph. Judah suggested slavery rather than slaughter. And God worked through the good in both of them.
He worked so well, and things turned out so well for Joseph and his whole family, that it comes to mind when we “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” It gives hope time of in trouble.
Envy often makes us lose, or keeps us from getting, the very thing we want. In Matthew 21:33-46 the point of Jesus’ story is that by being envious of his power and popularity with the people, who “regarded him as a prophet,” the “chief priests and Pharisees” were going to lose whatever power and prestige they had. In the story, the tenant farmers had a pretty good life and could have kept it if envy and greed had not moved them to kill the owner’s son. By killing him they lost everything.
Envy and jealousy have no place in the Church Among those doing the work of the Kingdom, there are no competitors; just allies. This includes Protestants and other Catholics whose gifts, projects and approaches that are different from ours. Jesus said, “whoever is not against you is for you.”
Here again we find the Liturgy of the Word recalling us to truth — or to the truth of the whole picture. We get so caught up in things we are passionate about, that we need the Mass readings — readings chosen for us, not by us — to break us out of our tunnel vision and broaden our perspective. It is a wise thing to do, whenever we have difficulty with another’s zeal, to ask (with interest, not challenge) what words of Jesus fire that zeal. If we can agree on their meaning, we have a common basis of understanding, even if disagree about some details. All religious dialogue should start with what we agree on.
A further step is to ask how the other felt moved by grace, by the Spirit, to live out God’s word in this particular way. We may find we have both had similar experiences of receiving and discerning inspirations of the Spirit. Then we are united in the “communion of the Holy Spirit.” And together we can “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.”
Initiative: Notice envy. Turn it to good by reaching a level of shared blessing.