Monday 2/13/2017 – The Envy of Cain

Sure, I love my neighbor. But I really love his new car. The guy I work with? I love him, too … but what I really would love to have is his bank account.

Why does everyone have a better phone than mine? I wish I had a job that paid as much as my brother’s. Look at the girl who just won all that praise … what an ego!

Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, can be a dangerous thing.

As we see in today’s first reading from Genesis, Chapter 4, it’s also been around for a long, long time. It’s the story of Cain killing his brother Abel out of rage driven by envy. Abel’s only crime? His sacrifice to God was better than Cain’s.

Who among us has not felt this way? If we are honest, we will admit that as much as we try to be happy with ourselves and our situation in life, we are also keenly aware of others who are doing better.

It’s sad, but common, especially in a society where everyone is focused on making more money, having more things and using each other for personal pleasure. We envy their toys, their money, their status in life.

Cain had envy of his brother’s abilities to please God. Imagine harboring hatred in your heart because the person in the next pew stuffs more dollar bills in the basket than you.

Rather than rejoice in the virtuous and selfless display of giving, we choose to cast judgment, whisper unflattering gossip and rejoice when someone rich and famous makes a mistake and is “knocked off their high horse.”

Why do we take pleasure in such pain? What can we to do to stop?

The only way to temper our destructive feelings of envy is to remember that we are called to simply love our neighbors … and our co-workers, our bosses and our politicians … our loved ones and our enemies.

Think of it this way. If your own child grows into a successful adult with a good job that pays better than what you ever earned, do you respond with anger? Or do you celebrate the good fortune?

In most cases, I would hope, loving parents would never envy their child’s success.

So perhaps we need to love our neighbors as if they are our own brothers, sisters, children.

Better yet, we could strive to love them the way Jesus loves us … unconditionally and with a willingness to die for us.

If we can get to that point, willing to love everyone – especially those we envy – then perhaps, with God’s grace, we will no longer envy them.

Genesis tells us that Abel’s blood “cries out to (God) from the soil.”

If we listen to our own troubled hearts, we can still hear those cries.

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist at The Indianapolis Star. A "cradle Catholic" who once felt the call to the Priesthood, he is now happily married to his wife, Sue, and enjoys spending time with his three granddaughters (and two cats). For the past decade, Dan has worked as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana through St. Joseph's College; and has studied theology as a student at Marian University. He previously studied journalism and political science at Indiana University. Currently, Dan loves to read and study the Catholic faith on a daily basis. He is particularly fond of the works of Thomas Merton and modern day scholars and theologians.

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Dan, you’ve made the understanding of these readings so simple for me and your reflection has spoken heavily to me. I could continue to accuse Cain without checking myself.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. Mat God blesses and enriches your minds to so more in helping people understands God s words…Thanks for the reflection.

  3. Mat God blesses and enriches your minds to do more in helping people understands God s words…Thanks for the reflection.

  4. thanks for talking directly to me and my soul. I promise to use today’s reading wisely in my life .may God give US the grace to be Christlike in Jesus name Amen. GoD bless u good writer.

  5. A right-on message, Dan. Perhaps one day you or someone can clearly explain why Cain’s offering did not please God. Pleasing God should not be a competition, rather a gift of the heart from our abundance.

  6. Thanks Dan. I love how you brought to life our own ability to accuse and cast judgment on our neighbor. It’s a tendency we all have, and indeed, only with God’s grace we can overcome such sins. Maybe Cain’s offering was only half-hearted and he did not care much about pleasing God. His quick jealously is something we can all identify with, unfortunately. God bless.

  7. Hey Dan,

    Nice reflection. I was reminded of what a priest said at a sermon: “It is easier to teach ‘no’ than ‘nice’.” Seems like that is what God is trying to do here.

    Mark

  8. Thankyou very much for your help in strengthen my faith and teaching the world about the word of God. Be blessed abundantly

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