I ask you this last thing, then I won’t bother you anymore:
Could you explain to me the “troubles” mentioned in the Discourse of the Beatitudes of the Gospel of Luke?
And when does competitiveness, the desire to excel, both at school, in sport, at work … but not at the expense of others, become a sin?
Response from the priest
- The troubles that follow the beatitudes are like curses. So says the Jerusalem Bible.
- However, God does not give the curse, but each one gives it to himself.
St. Thomas notes that in the Last Judgment Jesus will say: “Come, blessed of my Father” (Mt 25:34), while to the damned he will say: “Go away, away from me, cursed ones”.
St. Thomas notes that it is not said “cursed by my Father”, but simply cursed.
- Here is the text of St. Thomas:
“He therefore says: Get away from me, cursed ones. This sentence differs from the first, since in the first he said: Come, blessed of my Father etc .; but here, it does not say: Cursed by my Father, because our blessing is from God, the curse instead from us. And in Heb 6 and in Deut 23.5, he turns the blessing into a curse.
There is a difference because above he said: Receive the kingdom prepared for you etc., while here he says: Go into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.
And what is the reason? Origen says that he did not punish men, but they themselves bring death with their own hands ”(Commentary on Matthew 25,40).
- Concerning competitiveness: it is intrinsic to agonistic sports. As such, it is a good emotion.
If there is no desire to win, it is as if the competitive spirit is unnerved.
St. Paul recalls that at the stadium “everyone runs, but only one wins the prize. You too run in order to conquer it! ” (1 Cor 9:24).
Saint Paul draws from sporting events a certainly good image in itself to remind us that Christians too must run to receive another award.
Remember also that as “every athlete is disciplined in everything” and he does it “to obtain a crown that withers”, so we too must be temperate in everything, especially as we run for a crown that lasts forever “(Cf. 1 Cor 9 , 24-25).
- Competitiveness which simply aims to humiliate the opponent or to enjoy his defeat is wrong.
- The same at school: the desire to be first can be an incentive to do one’s best.
But if we are saddened by the joy of those who have done better than us, it is envy. And this is bad.
We must be pleased and congratulated on the good and the victories of others.
Here is what Saint Paul says: “Rejoice with those who are in joy; weep with those who are weeping ”(Rom 12:15).
I bless you and remind you to the Lord.