Sunday, January 24, 2010

Staring Down the Green-Eyed Monster

WE TEND TO measure our happiness by looking at others around us.

In today's reading from the Coptic Lectionary (John 3), we find people trying pushing St. John the Baptist's buttons: "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" (1).

But when you squeeze a Saint, virtue comes pouring out: "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven...the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." (2)

What does Jealousy Do To Us?

St. Cyprian notes,
When jealousy darkens our perceptions...the fear of God is despised, the teaching of Christ is neglected, the day of judgment is not anticipated. Pride inflates, cruelty embitters, faithlessness prevaricates, impatience agitates, discord rages, anger grows hot; nor can he who has become the subject of a foreign [power] any longer restrain or govern himself. By this the bond of the Lord's peace is broken; by this is violated brotherly charity; by this truth is adulterated, unity is divided (3)
Jealousy, like a "foreign power," slips in behind me and puts a dark pair on sunglasses over the eyes of my mind. It darkens my perception, i.e., how I see the world and the people around me.

An Annoying Companion:

St. Cyprian adds that being a jealous person won't win you any new friends: "Whoever you are that are envious and malignant, observe how crafty, mischievous, and hateful you are to those whom you hate." (4)

And unless you are a believer "the evil eye," there's only one person you're hurting: "Yet you are the enemy of no one's well-being more than your own. Whoever he is whom you persecute with jealousy, can evade and escape you. You cannot escape yourself ."(5)

I think we can each acknowledge that our most jealous moments have coincided with our weakest, smallest and most infantile and petty moments.
(1) v. 25
(2) vv. 27, 29, 30
(3) Treatise X On Envy and Jealousy, par. 6
(4) Ibid. par. 9
(5) Ibid.

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