The 7th Commandment

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Friends in Christ, in the year 180 BC, the Greeks heard that a lot of money was stored at the Temple in Jerusalem, and so in their greed, they sent a man named Heliodorus to steal the money that was kept there. Upon his arrival, Heliodorus was told by the priest that the money in the temple was a care-fund for the needy; nevertheless, Heliodorus said that the next day he and his soldiers would go into the Holy Temple to take the money. The high priest was sickened by this, and so all the people and the priests began to pray.
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The next day, Heliodorus marched with his men into the Holy Temple, but as he was approaching the treasury, there suddenly appeared a dazzling horse, ridden by a fearsome rider, whose armor and weapons were of gold, and two other young men at his side. The horse rushed Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. The two men scourged him until he fell wounded to the ground. His soldiers put him on a stretcher and took the nearly-dead man out. He only was able to recover from his terror only because the priest prayed for him. But he vowed to never take their money again.
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Friends in Christ, greed and the thirst for money has led people to theft, robbery, and to even gamble away their lives. Today we wish to discuss for our lesson, the 7th commandment.
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The 7th commandment is, ‘Thou shall not steal.’ Today in the Gospel, Our Lord says, that it is from the heart that comes bad thoughts, greed, and theft. Stealing therefore, originates in thoughts of greed.
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Stealing is the unjust taking of what belongs to another; and so it goes directly against love of neighbor.
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When I was young, in our town, no one ever locked their doors, even at night. Life was very peaceful. Then I remember one day, when our mother told us, that someone had gone into Mrs. Frank’s house, and taken her purse. She was very sad. We were in shock, that someone would take something from someone who was so nice. Then we had to begin locking our doors. Everything was different.
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Stealing wounds our neighbor, and it is against the law of God. Think of how you feel if you come home, and someone has been in your house, and taken things. It feels very bad. Jesus says, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ And so it is forbidden to ever steal something.
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In the days of St. Francis of Assisi, birds sometimes would gather to hear him teach; one day, during the planting of the corn, a Raven swooped down to pick up a planted seed, and flew to a nearby tree. But Francis scolded him, ‘Raven, did I not teach you not to steal?!’ And in a moment, the Raven replaced the seed in the farmers field. If a bird will even listen to the commandments, then we certainly must!!
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People think that they are being sneaky when they steal from a store, or put a lower price tag on a dress; but God sees it all. God sees that we are being bad. Let us rather follow St. Paul’s advice: ‘Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work, so that he may have something to share with those in need.’
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The 7th Commandment is for the good of everyone, young and old. Children must never take money from their siblings or their mother’s purse, and adults must not falsify expense accounts, pirate software, or cheat on taxes.
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If Joe is walking along and sees a wallet on the ground, what should he do? He could see if anyone nearby may have dropped it. He can look inside to find the person’s ID, and call them. I know a boy who did that, and he got a nice reward!! If we find some money, we have to make the best effort to discover whose it is, and return it. If after our best effort nothing can be done, then may we keep it.
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Stealing is a mortal sin if it involves something that is of significant value, or if it’s theft hurts the person a great deal. If Thomas steals $50 from Andrew, that would be a mortal sin, because it’s a big amount of money. If he steals gum from his brother, it’s venial sin; but if he steals a writing pen from his neighbor, and it is a cherished pen from his grandfather, it is serious, because the pen has important sentimental value.
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Now theft requires us to try to make up for what was done, returning what was stolen if we can. Sometimes that is not possible, but we may never keep what we stole, we can give to charity. Scripture says that those who steal and do not repent, will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So it is important to repent, and go to Confession.
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Bribery, vandalism, and excessive gambling are all sins against the 7th commandment. Sure, a little gambling is ok; it can make a game more exciting; but it becomes a sin if we waste money that is needed for our family, or if we violate the law, or waste a lot of time on it, or especially, if we become addicted. Gambling addiction has ruined many families.
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As Christ has said, stealing money or things, always has it’s origin with bad desires in the heart. A person feels that he is lacking something, and must take it from his neighbor – instead we must teach ourselves to be satisfied with what we have, and to respect the possessions of others.
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Regarding use of money, it is good to teach children to manage their money. If a child has an allowance of a dollar, show them that they must set aside 40 cents for savings, 10 cents to give to the church or the poor, and the rest they can spend. Kids who learn how to save their money for something are learning how to obtain something in an honest way, and so are not prone to crave other people’s things.
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Instead of wanting what others have, we should thank God for what we DO have. Jesus says, do not be anxious for your life, or worried about what you don’t have. Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap, yet their heavenly Father feeds them. Be not worried about other things, for your Father in heaven knows what you need.
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I told our school children that when I was young we never had to lock our doors, no one stole things. A little boy asked: ‘How can we get it to be like that again?’ I said, we have to start following Jesus, then it will be like that again.
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O Lord, help us – Mary, pray for us. That by our own uprightness and honesty, the world will become more like the Kingdom of God.

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Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas

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