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2013-08-11 message

posted Aug 19, 2013, 8:37 PM by St. John's Webmaster

Love does not envy. The experience of the spiritual fathers of our Church tells us that vices are not to be simply removed, but replaced by virtues. Often, we speak of a vice being replaced (transformed, or redirected) into its opposite virtue. Here we have a somewhat different example of the virtue of love helping in the removal of several vices, beginning with envy.

We may want to ask: why should we not envy? After all, envy can function as motivation to do more and have more; it can lead us to action. However, from a spiritual perspective, there are two reasons why envy is not a good thing. First, no matter how much we perceive envy as wanting better for ourselves, there is usually a hidden element of wanting the other to be worse as well. It is quite evident that this type of thought does not fit in with the Christian ideal.

Second, when we are envious, it is just about impossible to be thankful. There is a “yes, but” in our general attitude. “We are doing well, but not as well as…” “We have a nice family, but it would be great for the kids to have as much room as…” This dissatisfaction with our place in life does not leave much place for giving thanks in all things, as St. Paul directs us. We have said before that thanksgiving is an essential element of the Christian life. It follows that we should be wary of anything that leads us to be unthankful, envy being just one of those things.

Love, on the other hand, wishes nothing but the best for the object of that love. If, in some way, the loved one does better than us, that is a cause of rejoicing, not one of dejection. Yes, this may also cause us to wish to do better ourselves, but without the element of wishing ill on the other, thus avoiding the fall into envy. May we, by God’s grace, always rejoice in each other’s blessings.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter