Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Contrast In Jealousies

Jealousy is a sin that many people struggle with each day. It is also a sin that many people feel justified in committing each day. Today's readings offer a contrast in jealousies. The first reading offers us the jealousy of God. This is a loving jealousy defined as being vigilant in guarding something. Even against the shepherds of his people whom he himself had chosen, our Lord jealously guards his people. He is so vigilant that he chooses to shepherd us himself rather than see his flock abandoned, mistreated, or hurt. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who jealously guards his flock. What comfort we should take in this if we could only abandon our petty jealousies clearly on display in the Gospel. Resentful and bitter in rivalry born of envy the workers complain that all received the same daily wage even though some worked longer than others. This is not only their sin but the sin that we commit as well. We look at others and envy them when we are trying so hard to get along ourselves and they seem to have it easy. We resent them no matter how close they are to us. In fact parents, siblings, relations and good friends are very often those that we resent most. If not kept in check by a good examination of conscience and the Sacrament of Confession resentment easily ferments into bitterness. Bitterness poisons relationships and strikes a serious blow to love. How then can we abandon not only this corrupting sin but also the vile attitude that leads us to justifying our behavior. Quite simply by being mindful of the first jealousy. That of the Good Shepherd. Jesus says to the men in the Gospel, have I not taken good care of you. I am being generous with these workers, will I not be generous to you as well in the future. Jesus wont abandon us. Jesus will comfort us when we are mistreated. Jesus will heal us when we are hurt. He is the Good Shepherd who jealously tends his flock. Take comfort, take strength in his loving mercy that causes him to tend to our broken and wounded hearts so tenderly. He knows your labor and your burden. He knows how hard you try. Forget looking around comparing yourself to others. Stop judging yourself so harshly. See the Good Shepherd is calling your name. He will not let anyone else take care of you. You belong only to him. The Good Shepherd. The Lover of your soul.

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