An Unnecessary Burden – Fr. Mohan Bathineni

Fr. Mohan Bathineni’s Homily September 26, 2021

“Dear friends in Jesus, there is a story of a lion that grew old and lay sick in his den. All his subjects came to see, console, and sympathize with him except the fox, so the wolf who had been jealous of the fox came to the lion and said, ‘Your majesty, everyone in the forest came to see you in moments of your suffering except the fox. He takes very light of you and does not respect you. You must teach him a lesson. At that very moment that fox came in and had heard all that the wolf had said and naturally the lion was furious. He roared and sought an explanation for the carelessness of the fox and the fox humbly replied, ‘Your majesty, I am so sorry that I could not come to you on time, but do you know the reason I was late? I was late because I have been busy looking for a medicine to cure your sickness and thank God finally I stumbled upon a medicine to cure you.’ The lion was so happy and said, ‘What is it?’ ‘Your majesty’ the fox continued, ‘you must fillet a wolf alive and wrap yourself with his warm skin and you will be healed and hearty in no time.’ The wolf was immediately taken into custody and the fox left the cave smiling at the fate of the wolf. This, dear friends, is what happens to us if we harbor jealousy. Jealousy consumes, defeats and kills us. Jealousy is like rust. As rust grows inside us, jealousy ruins the just. It is true that our jealousy causes troubles to other people, but it troubles us more than it troubles them. The jealous are troublesome to other people, but are a torment to themselves, said William Penn and someone else rightly said, ‘Jealousy is a tiger which tears apart not only it’s prey, but also it’s own brazing heart. Jealousy harms us because it is a disease. Take Rachel the second wife of Jacob son of Abraham for example: when her own sister Leah who was the first wife of Jacob became a mother and she herself could not, Rachel grew jealous of her own sister and said to Jacob her husband, ‘Give me children or I shall die.’ Gen 30:1 Notice how self damaging jealousy is. It does not harm the person we are jealous of as it harms us who harbor it. That jealousy of Rachel does not harm her sister, but tends to harm Rachel herself because she considers suicide in her jealousy. The New Testament speaks of the jealousy the Jews had. They were so jealous of Paul and Barnabas that they expelled them from their communities because Paul and Barnabas were preaching the name of Jesus. The fact is they could expel Paul and Barnabas from their communities, but they could not expel Jesus from the hearts and lives of those people. The more Jews thought of Christianity and became jealous of it, the stronger and widespread Christianity became. In their jealousy the Jews did more damage to their own religion than to Christianity. Today’s reading speak of the jealousy of Joshua and the disciples of Jesus and the reprimand they received for the same.

Dear friends in Jesus, jealousy is very bad for various reasons. It is bad because in jealousy we do not see the world for what it is. We see it with eyes covered by our fears and so our view of the world is not accurate. It is very bad because in jealousy we look at what we lack and not what we have. It is bad because it makes us feel insecure. It is bad because it does not let us live our life to the full and enjoy it. When we are consumed by jealousy no food is joyous and no drink is cheerful as St. Cyprian would say. It is bad because it is an unnecessary burden we carry and it weighs us down. Jealousy is bad because it affects us no only in this life, but also in the life to come. St. Paul tells us that jealousy is the work of the flesh and that the jealous can never inherit the kingdom of God. If jealousy, dear friends is a disease, love is the only cure, the antidote for it. If jealousy defeats us, love makes us victorious both now and for eternity. 

Another important lesson today’s readings teach us is tolerance. I remember a story in this regard. Accordingly Abraham, our father in faith, held off his breakfast until a hungry person came along so that he could share it with him. One morning an old man came along and of course Abraham invited him to share his breakfast. However, when he heard the old man say a pagan blessing over his meal Abraham was angry and asked him to get out of his house immediately. Almost immediately God spoke to Abraham and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham, I have been providing that unbeliever with food every day for 80 years. Could you not have tolerated him for just one meal?’ Dear friends in Jesus, Christian tolerance demands that we bear with other people without condoning the evil they do by remaining true to our conscience and beliefs, by respecting the differences we encounter by working together on projects of common interest, by affirming what is good and noble in the position other people take even if we disagree with them and finally by allowing the light of Christ to shine through our loving words and deeds and our prayer this morning is, Heavenly father let us know how detrimental jealousy and intolerance are so that we overcome them and remain true to be love. Amen.”