Where does envy bring us?

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
Where does envy bring us?
Illustration by hersam sato

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.”

Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, was the subject of the homily I heard recently when I parked my bike on the grounds of the old church of St. John the Baptist in Calamba City.

“Where does envy bring us?” asked Fr. Park Ebones, parochial vicar of the parish. “To nothingness. To sin. That’s where envy leads us.”

To nothingness, because, in my mind, envy does not bring us anywhere. To sin — because it corrupts our moral fiber.

I read also that envy is directly related to depression, to anxiety. Many reasons for personal unhappiness are caused by envy. Envy is a negative mental thought that can affect physical health. It is stressful.

Fr. Park said envy is not simple in nature for the following reasons:

1. Blessings are appreciated by a heart not encumbered by envy. “Envy hinders us from seeing our own blessings, talents and strengths. We don’t see our own potential because we are focused on other people’s blessings. Not on ours.”

2. Envy deters us from seeing the bigger picture. “Envy allows us not to enrich ourselves. It stunts our personal growth because envy weakens our belief in ourselves. Envy blinds us and poisons our hearts so we won’t be able to see and celebrate the talents and blessings we have.”

3. Destructive is the soul that is envious. “Envy pushes down the people we are envious about. It teaches us to hurt and destroy others. Because we cannot lift ourselves, we push others down.”

4. The fault finder is an envious heart. “Envy is finding mistakes in others. It says, ‘I’m not the only one who is at fault. I’m not the only bad one. You, too, are wrong. You, too, are bad.’”

Childhood and envy

The innocent child, according to the priest, has no envy in his heart. “What makes an innocent child great is his ability to be content. Just one piece of candy and already he is happy.”

But the heart of an adult knows no contentment. “The world is not enough for an adult. Something is always missing in his world. There’s always a constant search for what is missing — material needs, the need to be loved, even the need to be relevant. We don’t have contentment.”

Why does an innocent child not experience envy?

“Because it is more important for an innocent child to have a playmate rather than a competition,” said Fr. Park. “A kid values relationships over ambition. He wants to share because he wants to have friends.”

“But the kid becomes an ‘enemy’ when the adult involves him in a competition,” the priest added.

Anatomy of envy

The anatomy of envy, as I learned from Fr. Park, stems from a heart that treats others not as brothers in faith. The anatomy of envy comes from a soul that does not regard others as friends.

“Mapanganib ang inggit dahil ito ang mitsa ng pagkaguho ng pagkatao, ng kaluluwa. Mapanganib ang inggit dahil hadlang ito sa pag-unlad ng isang tao. Mapanganib ang inggit dahil gumagawa ito ng kaaway. Sarili ang pinakamalaking kaaway. Nakamamatay ang inggit. “Envy is dangerous because it starts the degeneration of the soul, the disintegration of one’s humanity,” said the priest. “It hinders progress. It creates enemies — and the self is always the biggest enemy. Envy is fatal,” concluded Fr. Park.

Gratitude in Reposo

After my COVID journey last July, I hardly go to the city now. But once I’m in Makati, I always find myself biking to a church in Reposo.

The wind carried me the other week to Reposo to attend the 6:30 a.m. Mass at St. Andrew the Apostle Church. The breeze was nippy when I left the house at 5:50 am. The hanging cross inside the church gave warmth to the soul.

The homily was about gratitude. “When an act of kindness is done to you, your gratitude should also be immediately expressed,” said Msgr. Nestor Cerbo.

A “thank you” right away is both a prayer and an appreciation. That’s how I understood the homily.

Every human being has received kindness in many forms — money, food, clothing, jobs, a smile on a gloomy day, a quick ride on a rush hour, a phone call from a friend, friendship, forgiveness, scholarship, a piece of bread, a hug.

In all this, the reward to the giver is an expression of immediate gratitude.

Yet, there are those who don’t express gratitude to other people’s benevolence right away. For many reasons — pride or misplaced pride.

And there are kind people who do not wait or require others to owe them a debt of gratitude.

Why is immediate gratitude important?

Here’s the answer of the priest…

“Gratitude shows that we are great persons of dignity, that we are respectable when we know how to thank people who have helped us.

“Immediate gratitude shows our breeding, our manners, our dignity.”

Thank you.



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