TWENTY SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In the first reading of this 26th Sunday in ordinary times, we read about God bestowing His spirit on 70 elders who were appointed to help Moses in the governance of His people. Two of these elders did not come out to the temple area, where the rest were gathered, but remained in the camp. The spirit of the Lord still came upon them and they prophesied. Someone went and reported to Moses that these two guys were prophesying in the camp, and Joshua, furious with the news, asked Moses to stop them. In his mind, they were usurping Moses’ job. It was like saying to Moses, if these two guys keep prophesying, people won’t realize how special you are. Protect your privilege! Stop them! You don’t really want to share your special grace with them, do you? He was jealous for Moses’ power and authority and wanted to guard it because he was the next in command. But Moses looked at Joshua and said: “Are you jealous for me?” Don’t worry; I wish everybody was preaching. God is big enough for all of us to preach. There is enough God to go around, Joshua. I won’t be out of job.
It is amazing how we can be the moon and still be jealous of the stars. Jealousy is such a belittling passion because it resents God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignores God’s goodness in our own lives. It fails to recognize that God knows what He’s doing in the apportionment of His gifts. Jealousy cannot stand it when others are doing better and is sad at the happiness of others. It breeds a destructive critical spirit and gives birth to unwarranted suspicion and anger. It makes us hostile towards people and sometimes seeks to bring about the ruin of the others who have done nothing to hurt us. Look at the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter four. A friend of mine always says that the worst part of success is trying to find someone who is truly happy for you.
How come Moses didn’t join Joshua in this outburst of jealousy? Because he understood that God’s grace is enough for each and every one of us. What you have does not diminish what God can give to me. What you have is yours; mine is mine. We only get jealous when we think there is not enough to go around, which is the same thing as doubting God’s provision. We should never underestimate the power of jealousy to destroy. It has destroyed friendships, dissolved engagements, wrecked marriages, caused severe tensions in the rank-and-file of business organizations, sowed seeds of doubt and distrust while fostering bitterness and ugliness in families, and wreaked havoc in the lives of many people. As Scripture says, “Jealousy rots the bones” (Proverb 14:30). Just as iron is eaten away by rust so does jealous consume with negative passions, like anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness, or even disgust. We need to bear in mind, that the grace of God is sufficient for all of us.
Because Jealousy is a secret sin, a secret between me and my God, the only way to deal with it is to acknowledge its presence, denounce it, ask God to help us focus and be grateful for His blessings in our lives, and to be thankful for His blessings in other people’s lives. May the good Lord grant us the grace to do this, in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!