(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass on Thursday, the feast of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr. In his homily, the Holy Father prayed that God might preserve us from the sins of envy and jealousy – ugly sins that kill others with words and that exist even in our Christian communities.
Envy is an ugly sin that grows like a weed
The first reading (1 Sam 18:6-9; 19:1-7) tells the story of Saul, the king of Israel, and his jealousy towards David. After the victory over the Philistines, the women joyfully sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” From that day forward, Saul looked on David with suspicion, fearing that David might betray him. Ultimately, Saul decided to kill him. Later he followed the advice of his son and reconsidered. But his wicked thoughts returned. Jealousy, the Pope said, is “a sickness” that returns and brings with it envy:
“How ugly envy is! it is an attitude, it is an ugly sin. And jealousy or envy grows in the heart like a weed: it grows, but it doesn’t allow good plants to grow. It harms everything that its shadow seems to fall upon. There is no peace! It is a tormented heart, it is an ugly heart! But the envious heart, too – we hear it here – leads to killing, to death. And Scripture says clearly: through the envy of the devil, death entered the world.”
Envy kills, even in our communities
“Envy kills,” the Pope said. “It does not tolerate others having something that I do not have. And it always suffers, because the heart of an envious or jealous person suffers. It is a suffering heart!” It is a suffering that desires “the death of others.” “But how many times,” he asked, “in our communities – and we don’t have to look too far to see this – are people killed, through jealousy, with the tongue? Someone is envious of this, of the other, and they begin to gossip – and gossip kills”:
“I too, thinking and reflecting on this passage, invite myself – and everyone – to see if, in my heart, there is any jealousy, any envy, which always leads to death and doesn’t make me happy; because this sickness always leads us to regard the good others possess as if it were against us. And this is an ugly sin. It is the beginning of many, many crimes. Let us ask the Lord to give us the grace not to open the heart to jealousy, not to open the heart to envy, because these things always lead to death.”
Jesus handed over out of envy
Pope Francis concluded by noting that Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate because of the envy of the chief priests and the scribes:
“According to the interpretation of Pilate – who was very intelligent, but a coward – envy was what lead to the death of Jesus: the instrument, the ultimate instrument. They handed him over out of envy. Let us also ask the Lord the grace never, because of envy, to hand over to death a brother, a sister of the parish, of the community, or even someone in our neighbourhood. Everyone has their sins, everyone has their virtues. They are specific to each individual. Look at the good, and do not kill with gossip through envy or jealousy.