BRIDGEPORT—We should learn to be grateful for what we have rather than being jealous of others’ talents or possessions, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his homily during his weekly online Mass for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In addition to wounding others, jealousy blinds us to our own gifts and talents, and from feeling gratitude for our own lives, the bishop said.
Reflecting on the Gospel – Matthew 20:1-16 (1 “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard,”) the bishop said we may hesitate to admit our own jealousy but most of us have it in one form or another.
“It’s a sin and it can be profoundly serious. It harms others and ourselves because it hardens our hearts to what God has given us in our own lives and to the basic spiritual truths we need to come to grips with.”
In the parable, the landowner pays laborers who started working later in the day the same wage as those who began early in the morning.
The bishop said we are often like the laborers in the parable, asking why and failing to understand God’s love for us.
“If the landowner is God our Father, the truth is God gives gifts and talents according to his inscrutable will. They are given differently to each of us—and given to be given away in service of our neighbors.”
Looking back on his student days at Regis High School the bishop said he studied with a brilliant class of young men who seemed to master everything easily. He remembered struggling to improve his English prose skills while many of the students were learning Russian on the weekends as a second language.
Likewise, he said many people are jealous of others good looks or athletic talents, “while we struggle just to make the cut.” We may even be jealous of others who seem to be able to eat anything, while “We can just look at a piece of cake and gain weight.”
The bishop said that being envious of others masks an important spiritual truth.
“There is another deeper lesson at work here. That is, many times you and I are tempted to be jealous of our neighbor and envious of things they own because we have forgotten to be grateful. We spend too much time looking at those around us and not looking into our own lives. You and I are wildly blessed and many times we forget the gifts or take them for granted because they are part of the ordinary or in the fabric of our lives.”
The bishop recalled that as a young man he often disagreed with his father’s decisions and would question them.
“My father said, ‘I don’t have to explain them to you, though I may choose to for your own benefit. You need to trust me,’” the bishop said “The same is true for God our Father, as he gives each of us different gifts.”
At the end of his homily, the bishop issued a spiritual challenge for all to consider during the week.
“Why spend spiritual energy, waste time in comparing ourselves to one to another. It’s a dead end. The challenge is to spend more time celebrating and thanking the landowner for what he has given us. We should be less tempted to worry about what they have, and celebrate what we have… And then respond by giving our talents away. This is how we will learn to love our neighbor.”
In his brief remarks following Mass, the bishop invited all to watch the two-minute 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) video and to help others who have been devastated by the pandemic.
“When this entire challenge began 7 months ago, we were hoping it would be over. Sadly it is nowhere near being over,” he said.
The bishop said that the diocese has been able to respond on many levels in recent months but there is more work ahead. “I come to you in this unique moment recognizing that need in our midst in diocese continue to grow,” he said, urging people to be as generous as they can be to help the ACA reach it goal.
Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.