Life in Full Technicolor

Readings for September 23, 2018

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Psalm 54
James 3:16-4:3
Mark 9:30-37

The 1939 MGM production of the Wizard of Oz was widely acclaimed for its use of technicolor to enhance the story. Along with the ruby slippers and the yellow brick road, probably the most memorable color from the movie was the skin of the Wicked Witch of the West. She was green, the color of envy. The Wicked Witch was envious of the Good Witch of the East, envious of the residents of Oz, and, of course, envious of Dorothy, who “killed” her sister and “stole” her ruby slippers. In this portrayal the Wicked Witch of the West and her green skin are meant to be ugly because envy is ugly.

St. James seems to agree with this interpretation. “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice,” he says. In other words, “green doesn’t look good on you.” The Book of Wisdom paints a similar picture of the ugliness of jealousy when the wicked say, “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings … Let us condemn him to a shameful death.” Jesus gives a similar warning to his disciples, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him.” Not understanding the warning and fearful of what he meant, they turn on each other and Jesus catches them bickering about who is the greatest. The moral of this week’s readings seems to be: jealousy and selfish ambition are killers–foul practices that destruct order, lay ruin to relationships, and even claim to the life of our Savior.

Unfortunately, I am not immune to jealousy or selfish ambition. I am personally familiar with the apostles’ argument about who is the greatest, particularly at work. Even while gathered with friends, I am sometimes that guy whose story must be the one story that’s better than the others. I am competitive by nature (or by nurture–I grew up with three brothers!) and my drive to “win” is often just a manifestation of envy. It’s one of my many weaknesses, and it sometimes bleeds into my faith as well. I catch myself comparing my faith to the faith of others, feeling frustrated if my faith doesn’t stack up.

But Jesus doesn’t want my faith to be a competition. Jesus wants me to love him like a child loves their mother or their best friend or just about anyone who shows kindness to them. There is an innocence in a love that loves just because, instead of doing so with a goal to “win.” And that’s what I need to strive for in my relationship with Jesus. Only in loving others do I allow God to paint with His true colors–no envy, no jealousy, no sowing of discord. Serving others serves God.

Lord Jesus, color my world with love of others. May I live with the faith of a child, innocent in my belief and hope in you alone. I ask this in your name, who lives and reigns with God the Father, in unity with the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen

10 thoughts on “Life in Full Technicolor

  1. Agreed. What you say reminds me of what Jesus said about white walled sepulchres and the corruption that lies hidden within them. Only God can judge the human heart which is tainted by darkness and where sin originates in us.

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  2. I love your writing today. I too am not immune to jealousy or competition myself. I see the Jezebel spirit within the world and within the body of CHRIST and it’s operating at full force. Jezebel can be easily recognizable too if we’re being true to ourselves and with GOD.

    Rid me, rid all of me Father GOD, and replace with all of CHRIST. With CHRIST, we will make it! We will!! We must lean on HIM and depend on HIS strength always and if there is ANY BOASTING to be done, may it only be done for HIS GLORY and HIS ALONE, so if we are only bragging about CHRIST, then this will keep that jealousy and competition at bay.

    We in CHRIST do have a common goal, we are all in the same race and our prize is JESUS. Our treasures are truly in Heaven, not on earth.

    LORD help us. Give us more discernment than ever before. Help us to REMAIN HUMBLE. Help us LORD JESUS to see just exactly like you do, and to love just exactly like you love. Give us a new spirit to do your will; and in that newness, put the new fresh desire within to live for only you and do your perfect will. 🙏🏻

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  3. I always thought the witch’s green face was meant to arouse a little fright in the audience and reflect her evil character. I never took it as a form of imagery depicting her tendency to feel envious or jealous, especially of those who are good and act justly. Still, these negative and destructive feelings of envy and jealousy are manifestations of evil which can be frightening in their extremities whether we experience these dark feelings in us or face them existing in other people whom we love and care for in our personal lives.

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    1. I haven’t read anything about the choice of colors for the face of the Wicked Witch. But “green with envy” is what struck me when I read the readings. I think the same of the Grinch. Envy as one of the deadly sins seems to filter into many of the others as well. Greed stems from envy. Often, lust stems from envy (covet your neighbor’s wife). It’s a “gotta have” mentality that destroys us and, with us, our relationships with others. Evil, yes. Frightening, yes. But we don’t get as physically “ugly” as the Wicked Witch so we can hide our tendencies toward such things. Too easy to hide our true colors.

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