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제목 10th Commandment - “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house..any thing that is his.(2016-06-12)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-06-14

10th Commandment - “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house ..any thing that is his.(2016-06-12)

My dear Brethren,

 We arrive at the last Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house: neither shalt thou desire … his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his”(Ex. 20:17). As with the 9th Commandment, this one controls our interior desires and directs them towards God, towards Heaven, towards spiritual goods away from greed, from avarice, from envy and all kinds of disorderly affections.

 Avarice and envy can be a mortal sins: indeed St Paul lists them among other mortal sins, denouncing the corruption of the pagans of his time, as “being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers” (Rom. 1:29). And to the Galatians, St Paul denounces envy as one of the works of the flesh that excludes from salvation: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

 Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us: “Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth. And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God” (Lk. 12:15-21).

 At first sight, it seems that this man has done nothing forbidden: he did not steal, he did not kill, etc. he was just a successful farmer and good enterpriser. So what was wrong? Why did our Lord say of him: “thou, fool!” Because he was avaricious, loving earthly treasures and neglecting his eternal salvation. What a lesson! How many so love earthly goods, that they put their ultimate goals in them, and completely neglect the Supreme Good, the most High God! They search for success, success and more earthly success and completely ignore the eternal goods.

 To show the wrong of such attitude, let us first consider that earthly goods are passing goods, temporary goods, and thus compared with eternity they are like nothing. And those who love these earthly goods know very well that they are passing goods. This is why they hurry in order not to miss them: because they know that they are passing and they might not be able to get them later. They see elderly people, and that they are no longer able to enjoy these passing things, and do not reflect that they too are getting older and older every day. It is foolishness to see time passing and yet attach oneself to such passing things. Because we have a spirit that is capable to grasp eternal truths (e.g. the theorems of mathematics have that aspect of eternity: their truth is above time; they were, are and will always be true), so our mind is above time and can never be satisfied by passing goods. St Augustine says: “Thou has made us for Thee and our soul is restless until it can rest in Thee” (Conf. 1:1) And St Paul says beautifully: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

 Secondly let us consider that earthly goods, material goods, cannot be possessed by many at the same time: if there is “shared ownership”, then it is only a partial ownership, and one cannot fully dispose of the thing without the consent of the others… If a mother has a banana and eats it, then her child cannot eat it; if she gives it to her child who eats it, then she cannot eat it… For material things what you give, you lose. Hence the desire for material things divides people; immoderate desire for earthly things often lead to conflicts, envy, frauds, and all kinds of evil. St Paul warns: “For they that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition. For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:9-10) And St Peter denounces those who “have eyes full of adultery and of sin that ceaseth not: alluring unstable souls, having their heart exercised with covetousness, children of malediction:” (2 Pet. 2:14).

 Thirdly riches often lead to pride, which is a deeper sin; it leads to all kinds of worries and takes away peace and simple joys.

 Does that mean that we should not care and make no effort towards earthly success? Not exactly. Laziness and neglect of duty is also against Christian morals. Children should study well and strive to get good results at their tests; adults should work diligently in their job and strive to achieve the goal of their enterprises. Yet in all these efforts, their ultimate end must not be earthly success: their efforts ought to be done out of a sense of duty, in a spirit of service, but not out of greed and boundless appetite of earthly things. Indeed we have received much from our neighbour and therefore we should contribute a certain service to our neighbour in society, and from our contribution we deserve an income. But all this is done in a spirit of service, out of sense of duty, and not out of thirst for money, more money and ever more riches. St Paul shows this sense of service and duty very well: “He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have somethin g to give to him that suffereth need” (Eph. 4:28). He exhorts to work hard, but for which purpose? Not to get rich, but to fulfil his duty and be in a position to help others!

 If we “have in us truly the mind that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5), then we thirst for heavenly goods and are detached from earthly goods, we “despise the things of this earth and love the heavenly things” as we say in the Postcommunion of the feast of the Sacred Heart. Love is a movement of the heart: one cannot go upward and downward at the same time. So if we love the heavenly goods, necessarily we must detach ourselves from earthly goods.

 Our Lord Himself teaches us this great wisdom: “Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” (Mt. 6:19-21).

 With regard to earthly things, He advises us to avoid solicitude, anxiety: though we must do our duty, and be wise stewards of what we received, yet it must be without solicitude: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Mt. 6:33-34).

 We find great peace in this attitude: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out. But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content… But thou, O man of God, fly these things: and pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness” (1 Tim. 6:6-8, 11). “Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have; for he hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5)

 As explained for the 9th commandment, a good means to practice this 10th commandment is examination of conscience: are we too anxious about earthly things? Do we do our duty well? And for which purpose are we doing it? Dom Marmion beautifully teaches that we should do “WHAT God wants, in the MANNER in which He wants us to do it, and BECAUSE God wants.” Thus we refer all our actions to God and avoid earthly greed.
 If our heart is truly detached from earthly things, we should remain at peace even if we lose them. Some people become so angry and distressed when they lose earthly things: this only manifests that they loved them too much. On the contrary, in the Old Testament the holy man Job remained perfectly calm when he lost in one day all that he possessed – even his ten children who died in a tornado crushing their house. He said: “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). He had been rich, very rich, yet was not greedy; on the contrary he had been full of charity: “I was an eye to the blind, and a foot to the lame. I was the father of the poor” (Job 29:15-16). As his example shows, a good way to fight against greed is the practice of almsgiving and beneficence.

 One note on the crisis of the Church: it is remarkable that in the new liturgy, systematically the mentions of “contempt of earthly things” have been suppressed – many times if not all. For instance the beautiful Postcommunion of the feast of the Sacred Heart mentioned above has been supressed.

 The true Spirit of Christ rather leads to renouncing earthly things, to the point of the practice of the Evangelical Counsel of Poverty: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3). “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me” (Mt. 19:21). This is truly the ultimate practice of the 10th Commandment. One renounces earthly things, in order to possess more fully heavenly goods.

 Our greatest treasure on earth is our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This should be the greatest object of our desires. He is the pearl of great price, of which our Lord Himself says: “the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Mt. 13:45-46).

 At the end of these consideration on the Commandments of God, let us remember that charity fulfils the law. The whole Law is a law of Charity, it explains how to love God above all things and the neighbour as ourselves: each commandment is a requirement of charity, and it is out of charity that we can fulfil them. St Paul says: “he that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. For Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10). Charity is that love of God above ourselves, to the point of sacrifice; charity is “poured into our souls by the Holy Ghost Who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

 The examples of the Saints are there to prompt us to fulfil these Commandments, especially the example of St Joseph and our Lady, who lived a life of poverty, especially at Bethlehem. But above all, it is Jesus Himself, living in us, who inclines us to the practice of these virtues and obedience to the Commandments: “he that sent me, is with me, and he hath not left me alone: for I do always the things that please him” (Jn. 8:29). May we always be docile to His grace, obey His commandments and thus reach eternal bliss in Heaven! Amen.

Fr. F. Laisney (SSPXASIA)