Ninth and Tenth Commandments

  In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us “to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves”. For the times when we didn’t love God and our neighbor fully let us ask God’s pardon.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard that the Pharisees plotted against Jesus by trying to find “something” against him. They thought that by asking Jesus the question about paying taxes they would catch him. They were so sure that in their question there was a no-win response. Of course, we know that they were so wrong. Today again we hear that the Pharisees want to test Jesus by asking him another question. What were the most important commandments? We all know Jesus’ response by heart: “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. So let us look at today’s Gospel and reflect on what it means to love God with our whole self and to love others us we love ourselves.

The Bible says that when a man pleases God, He’ll make even his enemies be at peace with him. When you put God first, He will give you direction. When you bring Him the very best of yourselves, I mean when you give him your entire self, He’ll open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessings you can’t even imagine: the blessing of peace, joy and fulfillment. The Bible says “but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

In the second commandment Jesus tells us that God is love and we are never more like Him than when we are loving others. How do we love others? Love is a choice and scripture tells us in first Corinthians that when we choose to be patient, kind, humble, and forgiving, we are choosing love. It tells us that love is not easily angered but love always hopes, always perseveres, and love never fails.

When you think about what love is, do you ever find showing love difficult? Do you ever struggle with patience? Do you ever get easily angered? Today Jesus reminds us that we should love others like we love ourselves. This tells us that if we are having difficulty loving others, maybe we need to love ourselves more. Are you patient with yourself or do you get down on yourself when you sin or make a mistake? Ultimately, loving ourselves begins by receiving God’s love. We can’t give something to others unless we have first received it. We can’t love ourselves or love others without first filling up with God.

When we do the opposite—when we follow our own desires instead of God’s—it could be for a couple of reasons. It might just be ignorance. But it could also be what’s called covetousness. Some other words you may have heard for “covetousness” are “concupiscence” and “lust.”

What is “covetousness”? Covetousness means that our desires are seeking something contrary to reason. Desires can mislead us. As the Prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?”

Our desires can mislead us in a couple of ways. One is in the area of sexuality. God warns us against this in the Ninth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” This has some overlap with the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”

Here are some questions we could ask ourselves to see if we have broken the Ninth Commandment:

  • Have I told impure or vulgar jokes or stories?
  •  Have I looked at pornography?
  • Have I read sexually explicit materials?
  • Have I intentionally dwelt on impure thoughts or fantasies?
  • Have I willfully lusted after someone else?
  • Have I sought the affections of someone else’s spouse?
  • Have I failed to uphold the dignity of my spouse in all circumstances?
  • Have I contemplated infidelity to my spouse?
  • Have I dressed immodestly, in a way that could tempt someone else to lust?
  • The Ninth Commandment is about desires misleading us about people.
  • The Tenth Commandment is about desires misleading us about things. It is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. It has some overlap with the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not steal.”
  • What are some questions we can ask to see if we have broken the Tenth Commandment?
  • Have I been greedy?
  • Have I intended to steal or destroy things that belong to someone else?
  • Have I been sad or angry at the good fortune of another?
  • Have I desired what properly belonged to someone else?
  • Have I been materialistic?
  • Have I failed to trust that God will provide for all material and spiritual needs?
  • Have I neglected good stewardship of my finances, time and energy? Have I failed to share them with the Church and with those in need?
  • Have I been attached to riches or material goods?
  • Have I been jealous of others, of their personal qualities, success, material possessions, or financial status?
  • Purity and poverty of heart are very important. In fact, they are necessary to achieve union with God and to be with Him forever. As for purity of heart, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” As for poverty of heart, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “Whoever of you that does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Other terms for poverty of heart are voluntary poverty, or detachment from riches.
  • Poverty of heart means abandonment to God and total trust in Him. It means letting go of whatever keeps us from being united with Him, and from following Him.
  • Jesus gave us the greatest example of purity and poverty of heart. Here at Mass, when we receive His Body and Blood, we are given power to imitate His example. Then one day we too can know the joy and peace of being pure and poor of heart.