Father Mike Schmitz with the Newman Catholic Ministries (University of Duluth, Minnesota) gave a homily for the 25th Sunday in ordinary time. He spoke about the difference between envy and jealousy, in reference to the Gospel reading of Matthew 20.1-16a, the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
Using this parable, Fr. Mike explained the difference between envy and jealousy. Jealousy is looking at what someone else has and wishing you had it too. Envy is not about what you have or don’t have, instead, it is wishing someone else did not have it.
That provided some clarification about something that happened to me about 20 years ago when I was seriously disabled and in an electric wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. It happened during the Christmas Season.
My toddler grandson sat on my lap as we ventured up the hill on the sidewalk from my house past the historic old church at the crest of a hill, in my hometown. We sang happy Christmas songs out of tune, as usual. As my chair whirred up the hill, we stopped to watch another grandfather with his grandchild going down the hill on a toboggan. They laughed with delight as they passed us, a cloud of snow kicking up behind them. My little fellow watched them pass and it broke my heart knowing we would never do that. My small grandson and I continued up the hill in silence except for the sound of the motor on my wheelchair. I was jealous of that grandfather.
For years I felt a vague sense of shame at the thought of that day and my envy of a joyous grandfather and his grandchild. I did not even know the man.
This morning, Father Mike insightfully made a subtle but important distinction between envy and jealousy. Jealous is to wish you had what someone else has. Envy is to wish the other did not have it. I was jealous, not envious! I simply wanted what the other grandfather had; I did not want his joy to be taken from him. An important distinction! My life has been filled with many regrets and shame, but this morning, I discovered that envy that day, so long ago, was not one of them!
A wonderful miracle happened in recent years. God reversed my widespread paralysis of advanced end-stage MS and raised me from my electric wheelchair, as an old man, to walk again. The small boy who sat on my lap 20 years ago has grown into a man. But there is now a small granddaughter I can toboggan with down the same hill with the same delight. 2023 could be my best Christmas yet!
See the link below for Father Mike’s sermon