At the time of Jesus’ birth, King Herod ruled, a ruthless, cunning and deeply insecure leader. Dangerous. Herod was a leader who grasped at power, wanting to “eliminate” anyone who posed a threat to his position. He was dangerous because he was filled with jealousy, indeed a deadly sin... always deadly.
Jealousy is at the root of so many problems in relationships, families, communities, parishes. We can so easily become possessive of a person or a position of authority, or even a ministry that we create barriers between us and those we perceive as a threat. Jealousy hates new ideas that do not emanate from their own little minds. Control is the “name of the game” of a person under the grip of jealousy.
Herod became threatened and enraged when he discovered through the Magi that a newborn “king” would be born. His reaction, rooted in deep insecurity, was to eliminate this threat of a “new king” by ordering the death of all the newborn baby boys. When someone so deeply flawed has power and authority, the result is never good.
Jealousy is a horrible emotion that can become debilitating and destructive, if not recognized and dealt with accordingly. We all suffer from this deadly sin, ALL of us, in one form or another. The key is to acknowledge its presence within our hearts, a very unpleasant thing to admit about one’s self. No one wants to admit to being jealous, and it enters our hearts in the most insidious of ways. We need to be humble enough to acknowledge it and pray that it be vanquished.
How can we recognize the presence of jealousy? By asking ourselves, “What am I possessive of?” “Who am I possessing as an object of my control?” “What or who is possessing me?” “If I feel threatened or insecure by someone else, why?” “Do I feel good when someone else gets praise or attention, or do I become defensive?”
“Can I step aside and let the light shine on another person and their new ideas and gifts?”
Facing jealousy and not allowing it to have any power over us is the beginning of freedom.