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Greed leads to theft | Thy Sins are forgiven
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Greed leads to theft

Friends in Christ,
In the first reading today, 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 how easily the sin of avarice, of greed, leads a person even to theft, stealing from one’s  neighbor.  The 10th commandment, ‘Thou shalt not covet,’  leads straight to the 7th commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’  

Now there are many ways that we steal from our neighbor; as we read today, not paying someone a fair wage for their work, or, defrauding people, switching tags on merchandise to cheat the store, not speaking up when you know the cashier has made a mistake.   

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)  

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 o
f course we also may not buy goods that we suspect are stolen.  

Jesus says, “It is from the heart which comes forth evil thoughts….. and theft.  Sometimes in our heart we envy what another has.  If we have these thoughts, we should fight them before they grow; we should try to be satisfied with what we have.   

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 his great-grandfather, then it would be a serious sin against justice.  

Lent will soon be here.  It is a good time for us to fight against our wrong desires, especially desires that lead to injustice toward our neighbor.  

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