Have you ever thought that the ten commandments kind of start strong and peter out? It’s like listening to a sermon that starts strong( “You shall have no gods before Me! ” ), gets appropriately practical( “Honor your parents” ), but then gets so broad that it sounds like a platitude. I’m speaking of that last commandment, “you shall not begrudge thy neighbor’s goods.” The ninth is a style more specific- “you shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife”- but, actually, that last one really communicates us off in a way that obligates it was like a placeholder. In the full form in the scripture, it isn’t merely don’t covet goods, but it is specific on lots of those goods: maids, livestock, and anything else he has.
Rene Girard, in his diary I See Satan Fall Like Lightening, has an illuminating explanation of the tenth commandment, and shows us why it essential. In fact, the first and the last are the bookends of the commands, and the whole moral and spiritual life is understood better when we recognize it.
Girard points out that there is something very different about the last commandment: “The one-tenth and last commandment is distinguished from those preceding it both by its portion and the object and purpose: in place of prohibiting an act it forbids a desire.”( pg. 7 of the 6th publication by Orvis Books and others ).
Desire becomes the interpretive key that differentiates the 10th from the others, but too throws us the way to be faithful to them.
Those of us with small children have a perfect image to understand this better. Child A was of the view that Child B “ve got something” that either examines good, or maybe precisely notes that it seems to bring Child B with delight. Child A, therefore, decides he demands that thing- and he is willing to do much to get it, including brutality. He is likely to be meet some client that the object in question is actually “MINE! ” Or at least he wants it to be and he is willing to do all sorts of things to make it so. We say to them, in sounds slaked in their maturity, “You simply want that Tonka truck because you interpreted him with it! ” We go on: “You didn’t even demand it a minute ago when you were playing with the instructs! ”
The fact is all hopes are born from our encounter with the goods of others. We all modify what we want when we accompany our neighbor’s Tonka( or Corvette ).
Just consider something you desire … truly, think hard on it. What do you “want” as a result of this day and your work? Do you miss esteem? A delightful and clean vehicle? House of correction? Human respect? Popularity? To be a “leader? ” Seriously, stop and ask yourselves what things you demand, and what things you want people to say you have. We need to know the “why” of our activities. Do you want people to think you are tough, poised, nuanced, smart, hard-working, lyrical, rich, or punished? Genuinely, what are the things you want, and where did that requirement is just coming up? You require it because you saw it as a good possessed by your neighbor.
St. Francis de Sales never desired a Corvette , not only because he was a saint, but because he never insured one. I have to firstly perceive a good before we are intending to make it “mine.” In this desire to “make it quarry, ” according to Girard, we simultaneously violate the first commandments- determining God the total object of our adore- and we make the source of human conflict. The preceding precepts are all against acts of violence toward our neighbour: lying, stealing, killing. The happening is, all of those things are done in order to protect what we possess or to get what he retains. What besides desires would motivate lying, stealing, and killings?
There is great wisdom in the religious man, when the members literally cut off from deem the goods of others, and all-in sight possess the exact same things.
( As an aside, there is a way to see the good of others, to even want it, without trying to make it yours. It is called love. Love enjoys in the good of the other, and insofar as it might receive those goods, it does so with gratitude to the giver, and without any feel of grasping or operating .)
Let’s make sure we territory a truth of this world: God appointed the world with a cultivatable abundance that satisfies the real and natural needs of all men. There is no need for war over reserves, because there is enough for everyone. Creation is not a reality TV show where heavenly witness keep watching the dwellers of earth fight over an insufficient sum of goods all while expecting they be nice. Likewise, God cleared us for Himself, so our truest want- the one that all others can only attempt to fulfill- is the desire for God. God has also made Himself available to us by reason, show, and the direct gift of prayer. It is true what the Psalmist says, “There is nothing I shall want.” That is, unless I peak over the fencing at greener grass- and it is always greener not just because it is our neighbor’s grass, but because it isn’t hitherto ours. When it comes to goods, the malady of guilt cases us to either brace them with hoarding jealously( a blasphemy possible when we possess something) or to desire them in envy( the since that comes when we don’t hitherto possess something ).
It wasn’t long after Adam and Eve hoped independence from God that Cain wanted the good that Abel had and killed him for it. Envy of God and hatred of neighbour are the firstly two blasphemies. This should illuminate the logic of those “bookends” of precepts: lust God and don’t desire what your neighbor has. The tenth precept is not vague, but an all-encompassing correction of the resources of so much disorder and sin. Faithfulness to “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” would not only stop my children’s firstly fight over Tonkas, but would stop conflicts, disputes, arguments, backbiting, and all conflicts of man.
This might enlighten and help us especially during Lent. Prayer, alms, fasting. In prayer we approve and strengthen our true-life and good lust for God. In alms we be provided to our neighbour instead of trying to take from him. And in fasting we remind ourselves that earthly goods are made for boy , not gentleman for earthly goods. So , no, that last commandment is not vague. It is the protector of the others, defining us on the path of holy desire.
From the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno by Pope Pius XI 😛 TAGEND
For justice alone can, if faithfully find, remove the causes of social conflict but can never bring about organization of recollections and feelings. Surely all the institutions for the establishment of peace and the promotion of reciprocal promotion among workers, nonetheless perfect these may seem, have the principal foundation of their stability in the mutual alliance of brains and centers whereby the members are united with one another. If this bail is lacking, the best of regulations come to naught, as we have learned by too frequent know. And so, then only will true cooperation is a possibility for a single common good when the constituent parts of society deep feel themselves members of one huge family and children of the same Heavenly Father; nay, that they are one body in Christ, “but severally representatives one of another, ”[ 71] so that “if one member stands anything, all the members suffer with it.”[ 72] For then the rich and others in positions of capability will change their former apathy toward their poorer friends into a solicitous and active ardour, listen with kindliness to their only challenges, and freely forgive their possible mistakes and flaws. And older workers, sincerely setting aside every feeling of hatred or envy which the promoters of social conflict so cunningly exploit, will not only consented without rancor the place in human society assigned them by Divine Providence, but very will prop it in honor, knowing well that everyone according to his function and imperative is toiling usefully and honorably for the common good and is following closely in the steps of Him Who, being in the form of God, willed to be a carpenter among men and be known as the son of a carpenter.
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