You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (lie)
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
"Freedom from Theft"
by Fr. Jim Altman
Dear family, Our Father gave us the Ten Commandments for a reason, a good reason. Few people will do it, but we all should look in the mirror and say, "MY Father gave me Ten Commandments because He knew very well I, myself, needed such COMMANDS - not suggestions - because otherwise I would tend to misbehave." After all, if we all were greatly inclined to holiness, we would not have needed those ten in the first place. In fact - and again, few like to admit it - Our Father pretty much had us pegged as to the main areas we would sin.
So, He gave us these commands, like stripes along the highway, to keep us within the boundaries of the narrow road to Heaven. To stray outside those boundaries - to disobey those Commandments - to SIN - well, welcome to the broad road to destruction. Sometimes there are immediate consequences, like running into the ditch of sin, hitting a tree, and dying. Other times there are less immediate consequences. We might "get away" with doing something - or so we erroneously think. Like that secular hymn to Santa, Our Father does know when we've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake.
Life itself tends to have consequences when we violate those Ten Commandments, when we sin. If we sin in smaller matters, maybe those consequences will be like straying over the "chatter-bumps" intended to alert us when we stray onto or over the highway stripes. Maybe we will get away with texting while driving most of the time. That's what makes it so dangerous. Without immediate consequences we are lulled into a false sense of security, we are emboldened, until that day when our distracted driving does result in a real accident and we and others are maimed or killed. So it is with venial sins. The consequences are not immediate or are minor, so we are emboldened to continue and push the envelope further. That is such dangerous ground. Sin causes darkness in our souls, and the more we sin, the more it gets dark, dark, dark in there. It gets darker and darker until the time when we cross the line into grave sin and do not even recognize it for what it is. Then, dear family, we have most certainly chosen to drive down the broad road to destruction.
Dear family, I say all this because too many people do not appreciate Commandment #7, thou shalt not steal. Other words for stealing include "theft" and "larceny." In the secular world, theft is often defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Within this definition lie two key elements: a) a taking of someone else's property, and b) the requisite intent to deprive the victim of the property permanently.
As an aside, it permanently leaves out "unauthorized borrowing" - but just try and tell the store that you only were borrowing something you shoplifted! Similarly, if we put on our thinking caps, it just "doesn't fly" when a criminal alien suggests his "unauthorized entry" simply was a moment of "undocumented immigration." Our Federal Government - and every government on the face of this planet - has immigration commandments for a purpose. Get it straight, dear family: illegal aliens, who enter unauthorized, are thieves who have just stolen from every other citizen of this country, and no amount of left-wing-lib-editing of the terminology to "undocumented" can change that.
Understand this, dear family, Our Father had to COMMAND us not to steal precisely because we were inclined to steal. We were inclined to take that which was not ours. And the more we take, the more darkened our souls are to the reality and the gravity of the theft. Eventually, we get to the point of not even realizing we are taking. That is when we are blithely driving down the very center of the road to destruction.
Dear family, most of us know what does or does not belong to us. You don't need me to tell you that taking what is not yours is a sin, and that there will be consequences now or in eternity. You know this. For today, please recognize that many do NOT know this, or do not care. I do not believe for a second that all those rioters, looters, burners, and shooters are unaware that what they are taking or destroying is not theirs. They just do not care. They are lawless, which means - get this straight - they are godless. When you disregard the law and disregard God, it really is just that simple. Let us recognize it for what it is. This godlessness can be less evident, like when all those people took over the Wisconsin State Capital in a "protest," ultimately causing about seven million dollars in costs and damages - all paid for by the Badger taxpayers. Dear family, apart from the fact that many of them were teachers taking unauthorized leave and stealing time from the parents and students, they literally stole from every taxpayer every penny of costs and damages. They. Are. Thieves.
While I do not need to define taking of anything tangible, like a candy bar from Kwik Trip or a Wrangler from the Jeep dealership, the above example of the teachers stealing intangible time is instructive for another type of theft of which so many are clueless. For today, let us relate theft of intangible time by relating Commandment #7, "Thou shalt not steal," to Commandment #3, "Keep Holy the Lord's Day." The commandment was a day. That means 24 hours. I sometimes say it this way, "God commanded us to keep holy the DAY. That means 24 hours. Commandment #3 does not say 'keep holy the Lord's 55 minutes and get mad if father's homily is a little long!" A day is a day, and a day has 24 hours. Remember that bit about how if we sin our soul gets darker until it gets really dark? All those people who cannot be bothered to show up for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday - they commit grave sin because they have stolen God's time. Usually, it does not happen all at once. Usually, they start by playing fast and loose with just some of the 24 hours - doing unnecessary work or making someone else do unnecessary work by shopping or eating out on Sunday. They start down that very slippery slope until one day - boom, they find any excuse good enough to blow off their Sunday OBLIGATION. That will not end well for them. If they do not want to be with God on Sunday, they will not be with Him in eternity. Period.
Dear family, most of us - excluding the rioters, looters, burners, and shooters - know that we should not steal tangible things. How about for today let us ponder how so many of us steal intangible things - like time - like God's time? As part of our next confession, let us examine our consciences and ask ourselves how much time we have stolen. That is an important examination, dear family, because stealing time makes us thieves. To help with that examination, let us ask ourselves if we have made it a point to do what Jesus told us to do: spend an hour a day with our Lord in this life, so we really can spend an eternity with Him in the next.
Then let us, in these troubled, troubled times,
resolve to be free from our attachment to time,
and start giving back the Lord
one hour for every 23 other hours of the day He gives us.