We are praying within the Easter experience of being renewed and enlivened. We are invited to pray for the awareness of all the gifts God has given this world through its being created and blest by the redemptive love of Jesus.
We pray for the freedom to hold our gifts in common with our sisters and brothers. We hold them gently and generously as having been given and given to be shared. We pray to be more receptive to the movements of the Holy Spirit as we attempt to stay out of any of our favorite tombs.
The more we are aware of who we are and accept who we are and who we are not, the less “envy” directs our attitudes and choices. In our First Reading, the early believers were moved through their being grateful, to distribute all their possessions and share them with the needy. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit and their belief in the Resurrection of Jesus to a freer way of looking at life on this earth.
In his book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, Tracy Kidder quotes a Haitian saying that God gives the gifts, but doesn’t share. The sharing is up to us. “Envy” is an abiding sense that we are not enough and must buy, achieve, construct, or fabricate some dressing or pretense that will fool others, but not ourselves. Instead of a joyful spirit, the envious person smiles only at those who are fooled.
Adam and Eve had to dress themselves to avoid the shame of their being naked. They had to accumulate and preserve their personal “things” by which they and others would identify them. It seems that the early Christian Community was in a divesting spirit, because they were growing in their identities, personal and communal. God had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit to affirm them as beloved human beings. The early apostles held on to nothing except their belief in Jesus and the “power of His Resurrection.”
There are the materially needy who wait for God’s sharing through us. There are the others who need the blessing and comfort and encouragement of us who have become aware of and accept the sacramental name the Spirit offers us through Baptism and the other Sacraments. We accept who we are not, with some difficulty, I grant that. We are breathed into so as to move us beyond our mountains of fear and doubt. “Envy” is slowly replaced by blessed gratitude. When Christ has given us Himself and thereby too, given us ourselves, then grateful sharing becomes our personal subtitle.
Jesus enters a similar group of human beings, lost and hiding for fear. The “lost-and-found” department is now open for business. Jesus is the Finder and meets them in a condition in which they all would wish were different.
Instead of accusation, there is “Peace be with you.” The disciples “rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” They were divested of their fear, shame, and old names. They were now “apostles” or “those sent”. In a real sense, that is the name of “the Christ”, and He passes that name and personal subtitle on to His early church.
Thomas is a perfect picture of “envy”. He, as with Adam and Eve, wants to eat of the apple of certainty. Jesus affirms Thomas’ need to know, but blesses all of us who want to eat of that apple, but trust the experiences of others and the grace to live beyond the mountains of fear and doubt.
This very morning I participated in a fund-raiser, a run of five kilometers. It was a rather cool morning, but students and faculty from the Creighton Dental School lined up for the “fun” run. I run that distance four times a week, no problem. So off we went and according to our watches, the turn-around should be in sight. After ten more minutes we began to wonder if we were getting slower than we thought.
Thirty-four minutes into the run, which was turning into not being “fun” we arrived at the five K watering hole. The young dental-student got her miles and kilometers mixed up - ah yes, these Americans!
Not only did we have five more k’s to run, but we felt a demand for an explanation. She said cheerfully that we got twice as much for our ten dollars. We had trusted what we were told and our energy to complete our morning’s mission. It just about completed us.
Trusting what we are told without seeing signs is most difficult for us “envious” pilgrims. We kept watching for the faster runners to be passing by us going back to the beginning. We wanted certainty so that we would be comfortable that we would make it. We felt we had a right to know!
“Envy” is a human burden. It can confine us to prisons of fearful comparing. It can result in such inferiority that all attempts at anything is terrifyingly tense. It isolates us and mistakenly names us “loser”. Jesus rose to raise us from the gravitational pull of “envy” to the upright walking, (or running) the journey of believing.
“And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.” 1 John, 5
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