Today's reading from the first Book of Samuel is a follow-up to yesterday's in which David slays Goliath. As the army returns, the crowd sings the praises of the warriors, attributing to David the ultimate victory. Saul, while praised by the crowd, is relegated to the role of "also ran." His envy becomes the focus of the story. As you have heard me say before, honor and the avoidance of shame are the things that drive the culture of the Middle East. While honor and shame are not tangible things that we can hoard or store in our closets, to the Middle Easterner, there is no such thing as too much honor. Saul really believes that the praise that is heaped upon David is “robbing” him of the honor that is rightfully his.
Envy is cited as one of the capital or deadly sins. These sins are so named because they lead to a multitude of other sins. In the story we hear today, Saul's envy quickly escalates into thoughts of murder. Jonathan, Saul's son and a friend of David, intervenes and keeps his father from committing the heinous crime of murder.
Envy is born of the erroneous thought that if one person has more, there is not enough for me. In this case, because the crowd is lavish in its praise of David, Saul feels that there is not enough praise left for him. We fall into the same trap when we begin to think that the blessings of others preclude blessings in our lives.
To overcome envy it is imperative that we remember that in God there are no limits. God's love knows no bounds. We will never be left wanting more as there is more than enough to go around. The fact that human beings cannot truly know or understand God's boundless love leads us to the mistaken impression that there is not enough left for me. The Scriptures often remind us that God's love is greater than anything we have ever experienced.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator