The day when the Church celebrates the memory of St. Agnes, a virgin who was martyred at the age of 12, during Diocletian’s persecution, Pope Francis – during the customary morning Mass at St Martha’s House – dedicated the homily to jealousy and envy, two grave sins that kill brothers “with the words”. The patron saint of the virgins, fiancées, gardeners and hair specialists is celebrated in Aquila with the Feast of St. Agnes and the Evil Tongues.
The First Reading tells about how Saul, the King of Israel, was jealous of David. After obtaining victory against the Philistines, women sing the following words with joy: “Saul has slain one thousand, and David has slain 10 thousand.” Since that day – Pope Francis has said – Saul has been looking at David with suspicion, thinking he may betray him. Thus he decides to kill him. Then he follows his son’s advice and changes his mind. Then he changes his mind once again and resumes his bad thoughts. Jealousy – the Pope stresses – is “a disease” that comes back and leads to envy.
“Envy is a bad thing! – he emphasises – Jealousy or envy grow like bad grass in our hearts: it grows and does not allow good grass to grow. Whatever seems to shadow it, hurts it. It is not at peace! It is a restless heart, a bad heart! But even the envious heart – we have heard here – leads to killing and death. The Scripture makes it clear: death entered the world through devil’s envy.”
Envy “kills” – the Pope said – “and it cannot stand when someone else has something I do not have. And it suffers all the time, because the heart of the envious or jealous person suffers. It is a suffering heart. “It is a suffering that want “the death of the others. But how many times – he says – in our communities – it does not take a lot to come across it – out of jealousy, people kill with their tongue. People are envious of this or that and they begin to chat: and chatter kills!”
“Thinking and reflecting on this passage from the Scripture, I invite myself and everyone else to search my heart to see whether there is jealousy or envy in it, which always leads to death and does not make me happy; because this disease always leads you to look at the good things of other people as if they were against you. And that is a bad sin! It is the origin of many, many crimes. We ask the Lord to give us the grace not to open our heart to jealousy, not to open our hearts to envy – the Pope has concluded – because these things always lead to death.”