Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Throughout this Lent we are delving into the problem of sin and are using our study to set strategies that move us from self-centeredness and spiritual shortcoming to a life deep in line with the life of Jesus.

Throughout this Lent we are walking through the seven deadly sins and their antidote, the seven contrary virtues. We are studying contemporary examples of sin in TV, film and literature. In studying, we find what is required of us. In doing what is required we grow stronger. Having grown stronger, we will walk out of Lent armed with God’s grace and we will overcome!

Last week we covered pride, the first and core deadly sin. As we said, that sin is foundational to all the others. Today we cover Envy.

Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation. We engage in envy because we see others as so much luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than we are. Of course, this stems from the pride we take in our own perceptions rather than the reality of others’ lives. If we take the time to set envy aside and learn about, empathize with, and care for others we will quickly learn that our envy is unfounded. By way of example, we have all heard that talented handsome actor or beautiful actress tell someone, much later in their career, ‘I thought I was ugly and untalented.’

Looking to television, in Gilligan’s Island, Mary Ann was the symbol of envy. She felt – and key on felt – that she could never achieve Ginger’s glamour. The interesting fact is that those characters, those sins, were portrayed on a castaway island. Sin indeed separates us and keeps us apart, abandoned, and lonely. In that, we nurse our envy.

Ok, I have to throw in SpongeBob – where envy is perfectly exemplified by Plankton. He was so envious of others that he never saw their struggle, he never came into relationship with anyone else.

The cure for envy is charity and kindness. We see in Jesus’ instruction on the vine that we are all part of Him, that His father cares for each of us, and that we need to be pruned from time-to-time. In pruning we feel some pain and that is our tool to overcome envy – to take the time to really know our neighbor, understand them, and support them in their struggles, to feel their pain. To do so with kindness and in the end to be truly fruitful

Reflection for Sexagesima Sunday


But he hit me!!!!
You’re older. You can take it.

“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.”

Don’t you just hate it when justice isn’t done, when someone wrongs you and they don’t get what’s coming to them?

In the words above we may find a childhood memory. The young people here may recall saying and hearing the same thing recently. Dad or mom step in and tell us to act our age, take it. There might be some discipline involved, but it is never really satisfying to us. Once someone has hurt or wronged us they cannot take it back. They cannot put the genie back in the bottle or the toothpaste back in the tube.

This is the problem of sin.

Holy Scripture describes sin as the breaking, or transgression, of God’s law (1 John 3:4). It is also defined as disobedience or rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7), as well as independence from God. The original translation of “sin” is “to miss the mark” of God’s holy standard of righteousness.

If someone hates us, curses us, acts as an enemy, abuses us, hits us, or takes our stuff our natural reaction, based on our tendency to sin, is to do the same. Hit back, take their stuff, punish them, and wage war. Doing all that perpetuates sin.

Think of it this way, if someone passes me in their car, cuts me off, honks at me, and is otherwise rude and annoying, what do I feel like doing? My broken self calls out to do the same to them, or even to others. I might be so perturbed that later that day I let a door slam in someone’s face, I fail to hold the elevator, or I give someone a dirty look. What do they do? More of the same! On and on, sin perpetuating the next sin.

Jesus’s instructions break that cycle. They call us to live holy and righteous lives without sin. We live as light in the face of darkness, responding differently.

Jesus is telling us to act our age. He considers us to be the older children of His body. As such we need to act maturely in the face of sin. When the rude driver cuts us off, we need to say a prayer for them and do additional acts of kindness. In doing so we have followed Jesus’ instructions. In doing this we trust in God’s justice. We can’t put others toothpaste back in the tube, but we can make sure ours doesn’t get out. Doing that, we are on the mark, hitting God’s holy standard of righteousness.