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The Anatomy of Envy ^ | 9-25-06 | Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D

Posted on 09/25/2006 8:00:08 AM PDT by Salvation

by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Other Articles by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Anatomy of Envy

Recently a prominent CEO told a mixed group of business leaders that regardless of their religion they simply had to read the Bible. Why? Because success in business depends not so much upon understanding financial reports as it does upon understanding people. And when it comes to a book that reveals what makes people tick, there is none better than the Bible.

Perhaps Christians ought to pay heed to this businessman. We often get our ideas about people more from our own wishful thinking than God’s inspired Word. We expect that people will applaud and honor us when we live upright lives that are honorable, chaste, and charitable. We are shocked when they do the opposite.

Jesus wasn’t. He had read yesterday’s first reading from the book of Wisdom long before He began His public ministry. He knew that the miracles that He performed to heal, feed, and deliver the poor, sick and downtrodden, the words He spoke which captivated them and gave them hope — all this might very well be perceived to be a blessing by many. But He knew that to some, it would be perceived as a threat.

For what the people so abundantly received from Jesus served to remind everyone of just how little they had received from their religious leaders. Both Wisdom and James describe the inner dynamic at work in the hearts of such people. When good people come across someone more virtuous, they are grateful. For they are reminded of what they can become, and it encourages them to pursue excellence. They rejoice when the virtuous person is honored, and in fact lead the applause.

In contrast, when wicked people come across someone more virtuous, they are furious, because such people serve as proof that the wicked could be different. The virtuous person takes away their excuses and exposes their mediocrity, so they resent his success. Rather than emulate the hero and strive to accomplish similar things, they instead seek to destroy him and discredit his work, thereby removing the embarrassing threat to their self-respect and their image.

This goes beyond what we customarily mean by the term envy, for it is not simply wishing to possess a good thing enjoyed by another. Rather this sort of envy concludes, either through laziness or despair, that the good that it desires is impossible to attain, and so aims to obliterate it and the person possessing it. It is the capital sin of envy, and often employs ingenious strategies to bring down its perceived enemies.

Jesus understood all this. So amidst all the euphoria aroused by Jesus’s sensational ministry, He predicted that He would be tortured to death at the instigation of the “spiritual” leaders of His own people.

But Wisdom incarnate had a plan much wiser than the clever schemes of His cunning opponents. Yes, they had it all worked out: He’d come to Jerusalem for the feast, as would the Roman procurator, the only one who could approve His execution. They’d recruit a snitch from His inner circle. They’d rig a kangaroo court, mustering the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. They’d manipulate Pilate with fear of losing the emperor’s favor.

But the worldly wisdom of envy was no match for the heavenly wisdom of love. All their maneuvering only served to advance the purposes of His own glorious plan of salvation. The elaborate machinations of evil men played right into His hands, setting Him up to win the eternal forgiveness of those who plotted against Him.

For love, as St. Paul says in Romans 8, has the power to make everything work out to the good. And that is the reason that the crucifix is the central image of the Catholic faith. It is a symbol of faith, hope, and love. Yes, it demonstrates how much He loves us. But it also demonstrates that we have nothing to fear from the tragedies and calamities that have happened or could happen. For if He can bring glory out of the shame of the Cross, He can bring good out of anything.

Dr. D'Ambrosio studied under Avery Cardinal Dulles for his Ph.D. in historical theology and taught for many years at the University of Dallas. He now directs, which offers Catholic resources for RCIA, adult faith formation, and teens, with a special emphasis on the Year of the Eucharist, the Theology of the Body, the early Church Fathers, and the sacrament of confirmation.

(This article originally appeared in
Our Sunday Visitor and is used by permission of the author.)

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Islam; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Other non-Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; envy; love; sevendeadlysins; sin
Any thoughts about examples of envy in our current times?
1 posted on 09/25/2006 8:00:09 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 09/25/2006 8:01:15 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Salvation, I can't think of a better example of the envy spoken about in this article than the leaders of the Democratic Party. Look at Ted Kennedy and his absolute hatred for George Bush. I have never heard the President try to smear anyone. By his example, the President tries to be a good Christian. Kennedy, who parades his Catholicism, spews hatred everytime he speaks. Then we have Kerry, Durbin and Pelosi (who I think is Catholic).
Their hatred goes beyond political discourse. There was an article about Henry Hyde in yesterday's Chicago Sun times about his Catholicism and how it was his guiding force in public life and how he doesn't see it anymore being practiced by Catholics in public life. I will send you the reference if I can find it.

3 posted on 09/25/2006 8:11:05 AM PDT by Merry
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To: Merry

**I will send you the reference if I can find it.**

That would be great.

Kennedy, Kerry, Pelosi, etc. are what I like to call CINOs. Catholics in Name Only. They leave a lot to be desired.

But even the good thief was forgiven on the Cross for his sins. I know, he repented! Can't tell if these people would or not.

4 posted on 09/25/2006 8:15:56 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
From the Mass Readings for today.

Reading 1
Prv 3:27-34

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.

Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.

Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness

5 posted on 09/25/2006 8:20:14 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
From the Sunday Mass Readings - 09-24-06

Reading 1
Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

6 posted on 09/25/2006 8:22:48 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Wonderful article! I had never thought about envy in this way before. The attitude of the wicked toward the virtuous permeates our society.

7 posted on 09/25/2006 9:10:49 AM PDT by Puddleglum
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To: Puddleglum

**The attitude of the wicked toward the virtuous permeates our society.**

Indded, one need look no further than the recent incident over an intellectual speech given at a University by Pope Benedict XVI and the jihadist reaction to it.

8 posted on 09/25/2006 9:15:49 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Just the fact that Ted Kennedy has lived to be as old as he is proves that God is merciful.

He can call himself a Catholic and "profess" Christ, but his evil tongue proves he does not "possess" Christ in his heart.

9 posted on 09/25/2006 8:04:08 PM PDT by pray4liberty (School District horrors:
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