By Mario and Paola Martinez
Without love, I am nothing: love is not jealous, boastful, or rude. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
We can rest assured that God wants the very best for us. He sent His only son, Jesus, to save us (1 John 4:9) so that we could be united with Him eternally. It is up to us, however, to allow Him to transform our mind and heart so that we can grow into the best version of ourselves. Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, cautions us of the behaviors that prevent us from loving one another in a way that gives life: He speaks of jealousy, boasting, and rudeness as some behaviors that contradict love. When we work on being the best version of ourselves with God’s grace, we can love others authentically.
The Holy Father, in Amoris Laetitia states that jealousy is a form of sadness triggered by someone else’s accomplishments. The onset of jealousy can be attributed to many different reasons related to insecurity, rejection, suspicion, and loss of affection. It is not surprising then, that jealousy, boasting, and rudeness are connected to negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. These behaviors can strain and harm our relationship with our spouse, children, parents, siblings, other family members and friends.
In the Bible, we learn what jealousy did to Joseph’s relationship with his brothers, as well as what jealousy does to our relationships (Genesis 37:3-17). Joseph was a favored son who shared a dream about a bright future for him; then, his jealous brothers found a way to get rid of him. His brothers’ jealousy kept Joseph completely cut off from his family. Jealousy is something that we can all feel at any given time. If we do not learn to recognize and resolve it, jealousy can destroy us.
If we are intentionally trying to build a relationship based on loving actions, we must work to eliminate the bad habits that sabotage authentic love. When we struggle with jealousy, boasting, or rudeness, especially in our marriages, we should give each other permission to point it out in a loving and gentle way.
Pope Francis argues that “love makes us rise above ourselves, envy closes us in on ourselves” (Amoris Laetitia #95). About boasting, he states that “those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves but are focused on others; they do not need to be the center of attention” (Amoris Laetitia #97). Finally, he says that “to be open to a genuine encounter with others, ‘a kind look’ is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude [rudeness] that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own” (Amoris Laetitia #100). We are called to work on replacing these harmful behaviors with trust, humility, and kindness, so that our relationship with God and with others will flourish.
Here is the bottom line. If we care enough, we will want to work on ourselves. The problem with many people today though, is that they want the other person to change first. We need to stop pointing the finger at others, and instead work on becoming the best version of ourselves first.
Mario and Paola Martinez are co-directors of the Office of Marriage and Family Life Ministries in the Diocese of San Bernardino.