The 7th Commandment

Friends in Christ, in the first reading from St. James, there is a warning to the greedy: ‘Come now you rich, you have stored up treasures, you withheld wages from the workers, but their cries have reached the Lord of Hosts.’
.
We see here the evil of greed in the heart; the one who has this sin, so obsessed with posessions  his own wealth, refuses to pay his workers a fair wage. There is a direct connection between the 10th commandment and the 7th. ‘Thou shall not covet’ warns us, because if we covet, then we need to hear ‘Thou shall not steal.’
.
There are many ways that we steal; sometimes outright: a child taking money from the mother’s purse, or a person shoplifting, switching tags on merchandise. Many today are not afraid of going against God, they think only of what they can get away with, and if that means stealing, they do it. They think God does not see.
.
If a person cheats on his taxes, (Rom 13:7) or a student cheats on a test, he is guilty of theft – theft from the government and theft from his neighbor. To waste time on company hours is stealing from our employer, and it is also theft to refuse to pay back our debts. St. Paul says, ‘Do not be deceived: thieves will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.’ (1 Cor 6:10) And this is echoed by the psalmist today, who says that such people will not see the Light, and will end in the ‘nether world.’
.
This sin CAN be forgiven by God – we must repent and confess our sin; but something more is then needed. We must make restitution – return what was taken. If a person stole something and is not able to return it to the owner, then he should give the money or its equivalent to charity. He may not keep it.  Also, if we find something that has been lost, (Lev 6:2) before we keep it, we must try to find the rightful owner. and of course we also may not buy goods that we suspect are stolen.
.
In parts of Europe, whole families are thieves, and work together to pick pocket people on the trains and buses. Around here I know a father and daughter team who go around town robbing. A person who teaches a child to steal, according to Jesus, is in big trouble. Our Lord today warns against leading innocent people into sin; he says it would better for them if a huge stone were tied to their neck and they were thrown into the sea! It is a big sin to lead others into evil.
.
When does theft become a mortal sin? In two cases: If the thing taken is of significant value, or, if when taking it, it causes sadness or hardship for the other person. Taking someone’s writing-pen normally would not be a mortal sin; but if it was the treasured pen of a grandfather, it could be a serious sin.
.
Let us therefore fight against our greed and covetousness, and especially teach young people never to be cheaters or thieves.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation