It has often struck me that a lot of people are willing to own up to the vice of pride in a general sense. But in the unique realm of women, when pride is manifested mostly in the nasty little vice of envy, we all tend to avoid talking about it, let alone own up to it. We have all, if we are honest, envied someone somewhere along the line. We hate the feeling but it can be very strong. The way we deal with its strangle hold on our own heart and mind is to unburden it with perhaps gossip or innuendo. We hardly ever hear or say to another, "Man, I was envious. I am really sorry about that!" as we would perhaps more easily apologize for another fault like getting angry. It needs to be admitted more because then it is in the light and somehow the light can diffuse it and truth wins. One can even laugh about it when one finally says it, since most times it is ridiculous. It's one of those vices that grows to 500 times its normal size in dark, inner places. I try to think of the Pharisees when I think of that dark inner festering....they killed Jesus because of it...even KNOWING he was God. Now that's a strong and deadly sin!
And that thought brings us to another side of the coin. It is a given that envy hurts the envying one by obsession and no peace of soul. But envy can also deeply hurt the one envied, and in so many cases lead that person to stop doing good works because they don't want to feel that evil stare or the power of wagging tongues. This is sometimes what I think when Jesus talks about the talents in the Gospel. Perhaps that last man, the one who buries his talent, is afraid to be "talented". Human beings want so much to belong to the group, to be a part of the whole, to contribute, to be praised and loved. Other people's envy can kill that dead and perhaps leave a once tender heart cold and jaded. And depending on the temperament, it can really take a large toll on a woman. If she is sanguine, she will feel left out of the group - the kiss of death to a sanguine heart. If she is phlegmatic, she will be tempted to return to the shell from which she had just bravely ventured forth with an idea or a plan that was great, only for it to be snatched away from her and attributed to someone else out of envy. If she is melancholic she might brood and cry a lot over how to approach her tormentors in love and forgiveness, and if she is choleric there will most surely be a plan of retaliation waiting in the wings. None of these are good. All of these are temptations to sin.
We must use the talents God has given us. We must be creative. We must serve. We must have good ideas. We must rejoice. And we cannot stop doing it because someone envies those plans, ideas, or creative projects and makes us feel bad for having them. That would be giving in to human respect big time. But to the envious ones, think of this. By your envy, your gossip, your theft of other's ideas, self esteem, peace of soul - you are perhaps tempting someone to bury their talents - something Jesus forbids them to do.
So, let's think about it next time we are in a mess that envy has caused. And if you are envied, keep bravely coming up with ideas, and thoughts, and plans despite the pain you feel from those wagging tongues.
Let's not tempt one another into sin. Let's remember that it was this exact sin of envy that killed Jesus.
"Let us love in deed and not just talk about it."