Monday, September 22, 2014

The Elite member: Boarding group 1... Envy and Hope

American Airlines - Elite Status Member Benefits 

Boarding the Plane

I have a good friend who just recently flew back from Florida, and on the flight back he was flying American Airlines. And American Airlines has Elite status, you know. So a lot of the airlines are doing this now, where you are boarded by groups. So you have Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, and you are boarded in that order.

Well, the Elite status members get to go first, so they all board the plane, and then they call the next group. They call Group 2, Group 3, Group 4. When they are done calling all of the groups, they say, "All groups now board at this time." When they do that there is a big line, and everybody gets into that line and prepares to board.

So he got into line. And he's kind of like me, what's the purpose of rushing to get on the plane when you are going to be stuck there for, like, the next half hour. So as they are all in this big line, somebody had come in last minute and they are an Elite member. So she's telling everybody in line she's Elite, she gets to board first. They said, "Well, they have called all groups, so you have to wait in line like all of us." And she goes, "Well, I don't want to wait line." So she goes up to the desk and she says, "I'm an Elite member. I don't want to wait in line with these people." And so they let her go on the plane first. And, you know, there are people in line that were, of course, upset. She was upset, everybody was angry and upset about each other, and he's kind of standing, looking and laughing and like, why do they want to get on this hot plane any earlier than they have to? And so he experienced this moment of envy. So some of these passengers were envious of the Elite member that got to go first. Even though the Elite member came at the very last moment, she got to go on first.

We hear about this in the gospel. You know, Jesus gives us this parable, and he ends with, you know, this phrase that is so striking. It strikes to our core. Are you envious because I am generous? You know, so that's the first of two things that I just want to talk about in the Gospel. Are you envious because I am generous?

So envy is one of the capital sins. It's one of the seven deadly sins. And Jesus addresses it today in this Gospel. So if you think about it the catechism says the vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose. They're called the capital sins because they engender other sins or other vices. So envy might have been the first sin, you know, but before you know it there comes anger, there comes impatience, all the other sins kind of come after that. So the seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, anger, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth.

So I just want to talk about envy for a moment. I'm going to give you the definition from the catechism and just try to think about yourself and reflect in this because we all have some of these sins in our lives, but maybe envy is a core sin for us. So envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity. The baptized person should struggle against it by exercising goodwill. Envy often comes from pride. The baptized person should train himself to live in humility. So if you think about that airport experience, the people were experiencing envy, and it was a refusal of charity. They were refusing to be charitable and just kind to this person.

The second thing is envy is a sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate -- and immoderate, I looked up in the dictionary because I didn't know what it means. Immoderate means not sensible or restrained; excessive. So immoderate desire to have them for oneself. It is a capital sin. So it's an immoderate desire to have what somebody else has, to want to have their Elite status, to want to have whatever they are given.

You know, in the Gospel today, Jesus talks about the laborers in the vineyard. For those of you that go to churchSunday after Sunday, you are like the ones. If you've been doing this all your life, if you're from like a baptized Catholic, you've been doing this all your life. You've been working the vineyard from 9:00 to 5:00, right? And sometimes there can be envy when other people that come in later or come in whenever, or don't even practice their faith, are given more by God, are blessed more by God, and then that can cause us to be envious. So envy is sadness at the sight of another person's goods.
So what do we do to combat envy? The catechism says, "The baptized person combats envy through goodwill." So willing the good of the other through humility and through abandonment through the providence of God. Finally abandoning ourselves to the providence and really accepting what God has given to us.

So the first thing I just want to challenge us all to think about in our hearts is, is there envy there? Do we find ourselves envious of others? Do we get upset when others have more than we do? And if we notice that, it's a good thing. That's actually a grace to notice that and to realize that, because once we realize that sin in our hearts, then we can go to God and ask for forgiveness, and not only forgiveness, but to free us from that envy so that we can actually experience and desire the goodwill of the other person.

The second point I would like to talk about in the parable today is for those workers that come late. You know, the workers that come late, they come at five o'clock, which is like the end of the shift, you know. So they work like an hour and they are given everything. So I just want you to think about that because many of us struggle with people that are away from the faith.

I was just at lunch with a couple of ladies from the church. Their hearts were torn because their grandchildren are choosing not to practice the faith. One of them has gone to the Methodist church, one of them has left the church completely and doesn't go to church. Their hearts are really torn over this. And I just, all I can do is give them encouragement that, you know, just as we hear in the Gospel today, at any point in their lives they can turn to God. And even if it's that last final breath that they take, they will be accepted into the Kingdom, they will be become one of God's laborers, and they will receive eternal life.

So the truth is it's like all of us gathering on that plane ride, you know, the American Airlines ride, and we might all be in different groups who might experience and come to the faith at different times in our lives, but the grace is, through baptism, we all have a ticket. We're all going to get on the plane. You know, it doesn't matter what order we get on the plane, but we are actually all going to get on that plane and take that travel into eternal life.

So first of all, if there is any envy in our hearts, to ask God to free us from it; and secondly, to have great hope and great trust that God will bring back everyone to his church and that we will all get on that plane together and fly one day into eternal life.

Catechism References:

1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices.138 They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. (2539)

2540 Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility: (1829)

Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother’s progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised.329

2553 Envy is sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate [not sensible or restrained; excessive.] desire to have them for oneself. It is a capital sin.

2554 The baptized person combats envy through good-will, humility, and abandonment to the providence of God.

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