Sibling rivalry, fighting over who has the right to the biggest cookie, angry because he hit the game-winning Home-run, and I struck out, looking in the mirror and being depressed over the beauty that her best friend has and she does not, sadly questioning why her next door neighbor has countless friends, and she barely a dog to wag his tail at her, comparing his small car, poor house to one of his class-mates who has a Jaguar, most modern model, multi-million dollar house and swimming pool--- one thing in common with all of these individuals who carry with them a weight of sadness: they all have given in to the Capital sin of  ENVY! 

 What is envy?  Where does it come from?   Who has it?  What about the Bible and envy? What does envy actually do to the person who succumbs to it? Finally, on a positive note, how can one conquer envy?

First, a definition!   Envy can be defined as being sad over not having what another has and rejoicing when something bad happens to him!  Indeed a very ugly sin that frustrates the greatest of virtues—fraternal charity, loving and wishing good towards my neighbor!

Its Origin! It comes from Original sin and is one of the seven Capital Sins.   Being sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we have all inherited from being conceived with Original sin, these bad tendencies in our nature that are called “Capital Sins”.  St Thomas Aquinas calls this concupiscence--- the innate tendency, proclivity, or inclination towards evil and sin. If these tendencies—Capital sins--- are not held in check, then they become actual sins and if allowed to grow they become vices, which results in slavery!  Jesus says that sin is slavery!

The Capital sins can be divided into two categories: 1) those that refer more directly to the corporal nature—gluttony, lust, greed, and sloth; 2) those that refer more to the spiritual and intellectual nature--- anger, envy, and pride.

THE BIBLE AND ENVY!  In many places in the Bible, both Old Testament passages as well as New, the ugly serpent of envy pops up his head and manifests clearly poisonous, lethal consequences when not subdued and conquered.  Let’s see!

First of all, the Word of God states that sin came into the world though the envy of the devil.  Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent in the Garden and they succumbed, allowing entrance into the world, the reality of sin. However, behind the sin of our first parents was the insidious, envious presence of the evil one!                                    
CAIN AND ABEL!  Immediately after the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve,  the social  effect of sin raises its ugly head in the account of the sons of Adam and Eve, the brothers Cain and Abel.  Moved by jealousy and envy because God preferred Abel’s offering over his, Cain allowed the envy to turn into anger, from anger to rancor and from rancor bitter hatred, resulting in leading his brother out to the open field and murdering him—fratricide, the killing of his own brother!  The end result of envy unchecked--- murder, of one’s own brother!

SAUL AND DAVID!   On we go!   David volunteered to fight against Goliath, the ferocious, ruthless and victorious Philistine—in size and weight a veritable giant!    The story is well known!    David with slingshot and stone   against Goliath who had sword, shield and armor-bearer (like an ant against an elephant), David launched a rocket which riveted into the head of Goliath, who crashed to the ground, like the Twin Towers of NYC.  Dispatching the sword from the sheath, David handily decapitated Goliath the giant.  Outstanding victory!  Saul witnessed it with awe!  Manifesting extraordinary military prowess, David wins battle after battle, Saul too, but to a minor degree.  Then it happened!  After another victory, triumph after triumph for David, the culminating moment arrived, that would gradually lead to the demise of King and General of the People of Israel, Saul!   It was in the triumphal procession in Jerusalem.   As King Saul walked side by side with David, through the streets of Jerusalem, the Jewish maidens chanted songs of joy and victory, with these words:  “Saul has killed his thousands and David has killed his ten thousands!”   This was the straw that broke the camel’s back!  Not resisting the jealousy that surged within his heart, allowing envy to enter, being transformed by anger and hatred, Saul decided to do away with David by killing him. Saul and Cain would be brothers in murderous plots!

On one occasion, with his spear sharpened, Saul aimed and thrust it for David’s heart, but David dodged it; the spear penetrated the wall behind David.   Saul made no effort to subdue and conquer envy that had all but consumed him. The demise of the life of Saul was the battle against his enemies in which Saul felt overwhelmed. He consulted a witch (the witch of Endor), consults the dead prophet Samuel who predicts defeat for Saul—because due to envy, the Lord had departed from Saul.  Then in the midst of a losing battle, Saul ends his own life by falling on his own sword—committing suicide!
JESUS AND THE JEWS!   Finally, the most serious manifestation of the evil of jealousy and envy is in the death of Jesus.  Born in Bethlehem, brought up and raised in Nazareth, a very inconspicuous town---“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”-- the son of a humble carpenter, Jesus spoke with eloquence and power, He healed countless  of the sick and the people fled to Him, hanging on His words as He preached.    Many of the Pharisees, teachers of the law, could not accept somebody so hidden, unknown,  and uneducated who could have such a powerful impression on the people.   Therefore, they taunted Him, attacked Him, derided Him, tried to contradict Him and finally had Him crucified.   The principal reason behind the crucifixion and death of Jesus was once again that of jealousy and envy, leading to bitterness, hatred and murder!


Giving in to the Capital Sin of envy can wreak havoc in our soul, to say the least! It is incumbent upon us that upon discerning the ugly head of this serpent—envy—arising in our souls, we must reject it immediately. If not done, these are some of the ugly consequences that can take place in our persons!

1.            COMPARISONS!   Envy leads the eyes to wander upon the person envied and to comparisons.  “Comparisons are odious!”   The net result is the robbing of peace of soul.  The envious person is like a sea always in torment, never at peace!

2.            SINS OF THE TONGUE—GOSSIP AND SLANDER.   Envy often spills out into bitter and damaging words. It might be something as simple as gossip, but it might even lead to something more serious as slander, calumny and “Character assassination”.  Jesus says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Envy is a sign of a sick heart!  Ugly words manifest it!


3.            INSOMNIA!    The envious person, so worried about the progress and success of his “Rival” (often the rival has no idea of this) that he cannot even sleep at night.  Sleepless nights obviously will take its toll on the body. Irate, impatient, pushy, overly-demanding, harsh and bitter to others--- all as a result of sleepless nights brought on by envy!

4.            ULCERS!  An increased production of acidic fluids in the intestines results in a perforated intestine and ulcer!  Sin is our worse enemy!  Sin can actually lead to physical ailments, sometimes mounting in seriousness, and even death!


5.            FAMILY FIGHTS!   Sibling rivalry has as its source brothers and sisters who are jealous of each other because they feel that their parents pay little attention to them and too much attention to their other brother or sister. Quarrels, fights, and suspicions arise depriving the family of harmony and peace that are so necessary to live a wholesome family life.

6.            SABBOTAGE.   An envious person is bent on seeing to the end the downfall of his supposed “rival”—as we saw in Cain and Abel, David and Saul and Jesus with some of the Jews.  Therefore, the envious person looks for the opportunities to put stumbling blocks in the way of his rival to destroy him, but really he is destroying himself.

7.            MURDER!  As already explained more than once in the above Biblical examples, envy is like a snowball on the top of the mountain, once pushed the force of the momentum can accelerate the snowball to unknown and unthought-of  repercussions.  Jealousy paves the way to envy, envy to anger, anger to resentment, resentment to rancor and rancor to hatred and hatred fully mature culminates in murder—first in the heart and then exteriorly in action. Remember Cain and  King Saul!


8.            DESTROYS CHARITY!   Honestly, envy wills the evil and failure of another; whereas charity, on the contrary, desires the good of the other.  Moreover, charity is the greatest of all virtues on which at the end of our lives we will be judged.   As St. John of the Cross so clearly expresses: “In the twilight of our earthly existence we will be judged on love.”

9.            BLOCKS HUMAN, INTELLECTUAL AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN OTHERS. A “macho” type suffers often from insecurity; his tough bravado façade really is a mask to his own insecurity.  Therefore, to bolster his own pride, ego and own self-image and insecurity--- if he is married—he prevents his wife from advancing in her studies, attaining a job, or cultivating other talents, for fear of being overshadowed by the success of his wife! How ugly, but how prevalent this is!


10.         FRUSTRATION OF SPRITUAL PROGRESS—SPIRITUAL ENVY.   The Mystical Doctor, St John of the Cross explains the Capital sins in two ways: both physically (materially) as well as spiritually.  Spiritual envy manifests itself often in persons who sincerely pursue a life of great spiritual depth. However, the devil never goes on vacation, especially when he recognizes generous souls who pursue true sanctity of life.   Therefore, the devil can tempt such an individual to start to compare his/her spiritual life with that of another who is on the same pursuit or pathway to holiness. Comparisons are odious, especially in the spiritual life!   If not resisted, the temptation to spiritual envy can be devastating!  Instead of focusing on God as the center of his life, he is always observing and comparing himself to his “spiritual rival”, hoping that his “rival” will pray less, diminish his spiritual program of intensity and thereby take a subordinate role in the pursuit of holiness.  How contrary to charity is spiritual envy and displeasing to Jesus whose Last and Greatest Commandment was, “Love one another as I have loved you!”
In conclusion, as a result of Original Sin we all have the seeds of death germinating within the Garden of our souls. These are called the Capital Sins.  If these sins are not recognized, resisted, and dominated through the grace of God as well as a concerted determined determination (St. Teresa of Avila) on our part, then we can easily succumb to them and fall victim to them and worse yet actually become slaves to them. That is why Jesus says that sin is truly slavery. He came as Savior to set the captives free!

Examine your life, your actions, and very important examine your intentions.  Due to innate pride—which is the root cause of all of our sins—it is  very easy to suffer spiritual blindness so as not to even see or be aware of  jealousy , envy, or spiritual envy lurking in the deepest recesses of our souls.
The first step for healing a physical ailment as well as the healing of a spiritual ailment is the humble but sometimes painful recognition of the sickness.  A blind person cannot guide another blind person; both will fall right into the pit. Through adequate spiritual direction and confession, light can shine in our souls to see this interior wound and then Jesus the Divine Physician can touch the wound and heal it!   In a later blog article we will outline the strategy as well as remedy to conquer jealousy and envy in our lives!