We must be careful of the “worm” of jealousy and envy that leads us to “misjudge” and compete with others. Pope Francis began his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta by explaining that these two words, jealousy and envy, are the “seed of war”.

His message came from the Gospel reading, which describes how King Saul’s jealousy of David fades.

Jealousy and envy, he said, lead to an internal conversation with oneself that kills others. In reality, said the Pope, if we think about it, “there is no consistency” to them.

The restlessness of jealousy

Referring to the reading, the Pope recalls that the king’s jealousy comes from the fact that although he had killed ten thousand enemies, and David ‘only’ one thousand, the young women sang songs about David’s victories. This, said the Pope, is where “the restlessness of jealousy” begins. As a result, the king sets off with his army to kill David.

“Jealousies are criminals”, said Pope Francis, they are “always trying to kill”. And to those who say “yes, I’m jealous… but I’m not a murderer”, the Pope replied, not yet. “But if you continue it can end badly”.

Because, he recalled, it is easy to kill, even “with your tongue, with slander”.

Those who are jealous, said the Pope, are “incapable of seeing reality”, and only “a very strong fact” can open their eyes. So in Saul’s mind, “jealousy led him to believe that David was a murderer, an enemy”.

A grace from God

When someone who is jealous finally encounters this “fact”, this reality, said the Pope, “it is a grace from God”. When this happens, “jealousy bursts like a soap bubble”, because jealousy and envy have “no consistency”.

He explained that jealousy is born of a conversation with oneself, misinterpreting things in a way that prevents us from “seeing reality”.

When God gives us the grace to see the reality of the situation, He invites us to look at ourselves, said the Pope. We must “protect our hearts from this illness, from this conversation with oneself”.

To seek justice and peace

We must “be careful” of this “worm” that enters each one of us, he said, adding that “when we feel this distaste for someone, we must ask ourselves why”.

Finally Pope Francis prayed to the Lord that we may have the grace of having a transparent heart – a friendly one, he added, that “seeks only justice” and peace.

(Source: CD/Francesca Merlo, Vatican News)

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.