Envy is as old as humanity itself. In the first utterance of the word sin in Scripture, a man had two sons; two brothers who come to grief over, of all things, an offering given to God. “Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground. Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD looked with favor on Abel, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry.” He killed his brother.
At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, one of at least two possible sites for Jesus’ empty tomb, competing branches of Christianity vie for control of a grave that is still empty, fighting over, of all things, the worship of Jesus. The Greek Orthodox control the empty tomb proper, filling it up with all manner of iconography and liturgical folderol, smells and bells. The Armenian Apostolic church has their ornate chapel off to one side, with the Roman Catholics off to another, candles and music and prayer chiming in each. The Ethiopian Orthodox have been relegated to one of the entry ways, with their own dimly lit protocols, and the Syriac Orthodox theirs. And then tacked on to the main shrine with a separate entrance, like some sort of add-on Ikea closet, sits this odd little Coptic Christian chapel staking out its territory. Inside when we walked by was a lone monk reading his newspaper by candlelight, his sole responsibility being to swat intrusive tourists trying to take pictures.