Wednesday of Lent 3, March 27, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
Yesterday we looked at the first half of this part of the Litany of Penitence and the need for us to confess our anger at our own frustrations. Today, we explore the second half:
Our anger at our own frustration,
and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.
Envy, in the Catechism questions on the 10 Commandments, is the opposite of “rejoic[ing] in other people’s gifts and graces” (BCP 848). When we are tempted to envy, we have shifted our view from our neighbor as one in whom Christ dwells to the view that our neighbor has something that we do not have that we think we should have. Our focus is split and our vision is distorted. We don’t see the possibility of our neighbor’s gifts, skills, or things as a blessing for the life of the community. Rather, we think that what they have is something that we must have as well; we feel we are deficient until we have what they have. Our neighbor’s goods have become the means by which we judge ourselves. With this split focus, we are inappropriately diminished, our neighbor is inappropriately elevated, and we judge ourselves as lacking. Then, we find ourselves thinking that we can be elevated to the same place as we have lifted our neighbors if only we had what they have. In the end, envy leads us away from loving ourselves as the unique persons that we are as we are led away from loving our neighbors for who they are.
Envy is not just a personal sin, but can infect us as worshiping communities when we look at other worshiping communities and their ministries and compare ourselves in ways that damage our view of ourselves and our relationships with each other. Likewise, it is possible to envy another diocese rather than rejoice in their work or material goods
What things, gifts, and graces do you see in others that tempt you to envy?
What ministries in other worshiping communities do you use as a standard to judge your own worshiping community as lacking?
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our Prayers wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, and always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(61. A Prayer of Self-Dedication BCP 832-3)