The first reading today, from the book of Wisdom, is amazing. Written over 100 years before Jesus was born, it perfectly describes the events of Jesus’ death. Through this reading, we enter into the psychology of the Pharisees and priests who wanted Jesus put to death. In the book of Wisdom, they are called “the wicked.” I suppose that when they read the book of Wisdom they never imagined that they would be “the wicked”.
The wicked cannot stand the just one. They say, “Merely to see him is a hardship for us.” They are jealous. They know their own faults, the ways in which they are failing to live up to the training of their youth, but they put up with their faults, hiding them as much as they can. Then the just one appears, and it is as if Joe Mauer showed up at the company softball game. Now nothing is hidden. They look terrible by comparison.
There is a children’s book where a girl gets a wish and she wishes to be the best player on her basketball team. Her wish is granted. When the next game arrives, the girl is still a mediocre player, but all the stars have lost their talent. She was now the best player simply because everyone else has become horrible.
Only an immature spirituality can be jealous. If I see that others have made more progress than me in the love of God and purity of heart, I rejoice. The more God is praised, the better. When I consider my sins, I hope that I am the worst in the world, I hope that everyone else is at least better than I am. If someone can preach better than I, praise God! If someone can heal the sick by laying on hands though I cannot, praise God! If someone can raise money better than I, praise God! If someone can pray better than I, hearing the very voice of God, praise God! If someone can forgive others more quickly than I can, praise God!
In the pursuit of holiness, we should run, not walk. Indeed, we should run so as to win, with all our strength, but if, as we are running as hard as we can, someone else passes us at an incredible speed, praise God!