Comparison is the Thief of Joy


Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I’ve always enjoyed travelling with the St. Mary Catholic High School, Hamilton, ON students to Dominican Republic on mission trips. The D.RE.A.M.S. (Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support) program is an immersion project in the Ocoa region, and is coordinated by ADESJO (Organization for the Development of the People of San José de Ocoa). The missionary groups live in the remote villages in the mountains, helping out with various projects, such as building a house, a school, or laying down pipes to bring water to the community. In reality, this is about much more than just building a house. It’s mostly about building relationships with the local people, and within the group itself. Young people live, eat, and work together, and share their experiences with others. For many, it is an eye-opening encounter where they see happiness and joy in the midst of physical poverty. This mission experience helps them to touch the core of what it means to be human. And every experience is unique.

I remember our first trip back in 2018. We had two groups that time; meaning we were traveling together to San José de Ocoa and then separated into two different villages in the mountains for a few days. Each group had an amazing life-changing experience, each very unique and different, however. You could feel the energy change as we came toward the completion of our mission in San José, and before returning to Canada. There were lots of stories shared with excitement. Unfortunately, at some point the energy had shifted. The students started comparing their experiences, trying to prove that their mission encounters were better and more meaningful than the others. The conversations changed into almost an ugly shouting match. We had to sit them down together and add another lesson: “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

Something similar happens in this weekend’s Gospel. By the end of the day, they started comparing their daily wages (on which they agreed before they went to work) as well as working hours, with others. Being grateful for an opportunity to earn their living, very soon changed to anger and envy, just proving the point that comparison is a thief of joy. The landowner had to sit them down and teach them another lesson: “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go…” (Matt 20:13) Be grateful.

So often we tend to do this in our lives. Having wonderful experiences, jobs offered, ministries entrusted or successes achieved, and we begin compering them to other peoples’ experiences, jobs, ministries. Ironically, it seems like the grass is always greener on our neighbour’s lawn. However, the fact is, that the grass is always greener where you water it. We water it with the heart of gratefulness. The attitude of gratitude brings us joy, and comparison will always try to steal that joy.

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director