The 9th Commandment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” Exodus 20:17. This is also restated in Deuteronomy 5:21.  As we discussed previously, the 9th and 10th commandment are linked with a call to NOT desire for both your neighbor’s goods and his wife.  The 9th commandment deals with the desire for another man’s wife and vice versa, a woman to desire another woman’s husband. 

Jesus reinforces this commandment in Matthew 27:28 “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So, what is wrong with thoughts, they are seemingly harmless.  Clearly, if you stop and think, there are harmful thoughts.  Thoughts of envy, thoughts of greed, thoughts of hatred all diminish your quality of life.  If you are consumed with thoughts of revenge on someone who wronged you, you will find yourself unhappy and miserable.  You could be led to actually hurting the person who wronged you but more than likely, you will hurt those around you with your unpleasant disposition.

Thoughts, driven by lessons, either learned first hand or assumed, can dictate your actions.  If you had a boss that once wronged you, if you let that lesson impact your next experience with your new boss, you will not likely have a good relationship, hurting your career.  For example, if your old boss stole your ideas and presented them to others as his own, if you carry those lessons forward, you may be less likely to share ideas with your new boss, hurting your career by being overly secretive, protective and defensive. 

Thoughts can hurt you, if they are inconsistent with God’s will.  By stealing your mind away from immoral thoughts of desire, you can more freely think clearly and appropriately.  If you let the desires of flesh consume you, you will never be happy because desires of the flesh and sexual pleasure is not enough to make one’s heart at ease; only the love of God can ease your heart. 

For all of time, pornography has been shunned and widely rejected by society.  Today, we are inundated with pornography on any media device and the evil one himself wants us to believe pornography is harmless.  Why are Christians and Jews so against pornography – because they’ve read and studied the 9th Commandment and know it harms oneself.  Pornography stands as an obstacle to purity of heart and lets in damaging thoughts.  Today, we are free to allow unhealthy thoughts, but we are far from free, rather, we become trapped.  Freedom of desire is to be sought so we can be truly free. 

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8.  The 6th Beatitude challenges us to clean our heart and mind.  By purifying your thoughts, you will hear God and know better His will. 

Purity of heart should be desired.  As you work towards adhering to the 9th Commandment, freeing your mind from thoughts of desire, you are better able to see your fellow man and woman as who they truly are, a child of God. 

Purity of the heart brings freedom.  You are no longer enslaved to your desires, but clearly see the dignity of the person.  It is erroneous to want to be free from God, where you are immodest in thought and behavior, only to find yourself trapped in sin and far from God and His love. 

God Bless!

The 10th Commandment

The 10th Commandment is really wrapped into the 9th Commandment stated as, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female salve, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.” Exodus 20:17
Through history, we have broken this commandment into 2, and the 10th is best stated as, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Really, while one verse, the commandments should be separated here into two as they do concern two separate issues, one of desire for another’s spouse and one of their possessions. Today, we address your neighbor’s goods. Obviously, neighbor is used loosely here and doesn’t mean the persons that live on either side of you, but refers to those you know.
Covet is not a word thrown around much today, but is defined as “yearn to possess or have (something).” If my neighbor drives a fine car and it makes me jealous, I’m not harming anyone, right? Thoughts don’t have substance, but thoughts do two major things. First, thoughts of jealously hurt me, and God loves me and he doesn’t want me to be hurt; I am unsettled and unhappy when I have feelings of jealousy. So while at first, it appears that God has made a seemingly overly restrictive law around what I can and can’t think, what He has actually done is tried to protect me from me. God doesn’t want me worrying and obsessing over what others have and I have not.
The second thing a thought can do that can cause harm is if it’s allowed to grow. A thought starts out as something small, but given time, it can grow and lead to action. If my friend across town has a lot of expensive toys and my thoughts are consumed with of jealously, I could over extend my credit line trying to keep up (with the Jones) him or I could actually steal the items. Equally bad, I could begin to slander his name in an attempt to bring him down a notch on my perceived social scale. I could start to speculate to others that while my friend has lots of toys it is because he’s a selfish jerk; now, in addition to breaking the 10th Commandment, I’ve broken the 8th as well, more to come on the 8th.
I have a friend I went to college with that was vacationing on the French Riviera last year. At first, I couldn’t believe that the kid I knew in college, who drank and smoked way too much and was always in a bad mood, was now sipping wine on the Mediterranean coast. I quickly though changed my thought to one of happiness for him. I was glad to see that he had done well and was on a seemingly very cool vacation. I don’t actually know if he’s happy, but he sure seems interesting to me and I don’t have any reason to believe he’s not happy. The fact that my college friend is more successful than me doesn’t change anything with regard to me and my accomplishments.
The 10th Commandment seeks to ease my soul and my worry. It seeks to tell me, don’t worry that your college friend has more money and toys than you. God loves me and He wants what is best for me, so He gives me this commandment, and I’m better for it as should you.
Stay tuned for the 9th Commandment post.

God Bless!

Dad’s, waste time with your family

“And I regularly asked fathers if they played with their children; if they had the courage to have the love to waste time with their children.  The answer wasn’t good, eh!  The majority would say: “But, I can’t because I have so much work to do…’ And the father was absent from that child that was growing up and didn’t play with him, he didn’t waste time with him.”  Pope Francis

Last Saturday, I had a plan.  It was a nice day and I like to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast on our screened in porch while reading.  I got together my breakfast and sat down.  The kids weren’t up yet and my wife was out running a road race.

My children typically like to get up, watch something and eat their breakfast – a good hour of time spent.

My plan was to run a quick 4 miles on the treadmill when the kids got up, while they watched their show.  As I sat and ate, my son woke and came out on the porch.  For the next hour, he told me his thoughts on the Marvel movies, we took 3 on-line quizzes to discover what our Marvel weapon should be (mine was Dr Strange’s Eye of Agamotto ???), which Marvel Hero we are most like (Thor) and which Marvel villain we are most like (can’t remember).

Well, I didn’t get my run in.  I thought about asking my son to go watch a show or tell him I wanted to exercise.  Pope Francis’ words did echo in my brain and I decided to waste time with him.

The Father loves us.  As Fathers, we are called to love, like the Father.  When we pass to the next realm, we hope we recognize the Father by saying, “I know you, your love was with me all the while.”

I’m not looking for a clap on the back, I don’t always get things right, but I just want to reflect on a moment in time when I got something right.  I wanted to do my thing, but I choose my son instead.  I choose to waste time with my family.

Waste time with your family.

God Bless

The Ark is Mary

To Moses, by God’s very word: “You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.  Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it.”   Exodus 25:10-11

The Lord has the Ark made of pure gold and spends a few chapters explaining how the Ark is to be made pure, flawless and blessed.  Later in Exodus, the dwelling that Moses erects to house the Ark is often covered, or overshadowed, by the cloud of the Lord.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 1:35, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  Like God overshadowed His Ark, God will overshadow His new Ark, Mary.

The Ark contained the word of God, and Mary now contains the Word of God in Jesus, becoming the new Ark.

Remember that God was very specific in the creation of the Ark, having it made pure.  No less than 5 Chapters are dedicated to the making of the Ark.  Knowing the pains God takes to purify His Ark to house the Ten Commandments, it only stands to reason that His new Ark, Mary, would also be pure prior to Her housing the Word of God, Jesus.  This is a major reason Catholics believe in Mary’s purity and her Immaculate Conception, because the Ark is made pure and Mary is the new Ark.

The Ark continues to have significance as David takes great pains to secure it and it continues to bless him while in his possession.

David sets out to Judah to retrieve the Ark to bring it to Jerusalem but while transporting the Ark, it begins to tip and a man name Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark.  Because Uzzah believes he can steady the Ark, rather than God protect it, God strikes Uzzah dead.  David now fears the Ark and leaves it in the hill country of Judah with a man named Obededom.

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed Obededom and his whole house.”  2 Sam 6:11

Mary, after she is with child, in haste rushes to her cousin Elizabeth who lives in the hill country of Judah and remains with her for three months.  The parallel with the Ark is gaining ground here, as the Ark was in the hill country of Judah and remained for three months, just like Mary travels to Judah for three months.

As David brings the Ark into Jerusalem, he dances before the Ark.  “Then David, girt with linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon as he and all the Israelites were brining up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn.”  2 Sam 6:14-15

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  Luke 1:41-42 The child with Elizabeth is John the Baptist and John here, like David before, dances (or leaps) before the Ark with abandon.

Turning to John in the book of Revelations Chapter 11:19 to 12:1-2 we get to the final point of Mary as the Ark.  “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.  There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.  A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” 

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” Rev 12:5

Clearly, its Mary John speaks of, who is with child that is destined to rule all the nations.  John notes he sees the Ark and directly after noting the Ark, he sees Mary.  Mary is the new Ark – she is significant.

God Bless!

The Cock’s Crow!

“Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”  Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Mat 26:33-34

Did every nation East of Jerusalem, as the sun rose while the world spun, awake to silence?  Did the world cease to hear the morning call of the cock?

I like to imagine that the good men and women in the East stopped in wonder.  Was something wrong?  Was something happening?

The answer is, something was happening, The Son was accepting His death, a death alone on a cross for all mankind.  Yes, something was happening, but no one but a few knew.

Did the cock not crow for all mankind during this time or was the cock’s crow at that moment just for Peter’s ears?  I believe the rooster called it shrill cry for Peter’s ears, to teach our first Pope of his great sin.

Our God is a patience and deliberate God.  Had the cock not crowed for all mankind for the 10 or so hours it took between our Lord’s prophesy and Peter’s denials, it would have been just curious and resolved the next morning as the cock resumed his predictable noise.

Something was going on, but that happening is not just a curious event at one moment in time but one that an everlasting, ancient one made sure still rings today.  That bird’s call is forever memorialized to this day.  An insignificant beast played his part, oblivious of his role in history.

Its not just spooky that Jesus knew the future, rather, we come to learn that even in Jesus’ greatest time of need, Peter couldn’t stand firm, and he ran.  Peter was far from Jesus, but the sound of the cock’s crow is the Father calling to Peter, come back.  It calls to the man, repent/ turn back.

Peter does repent:

“At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.”  And immediately a cock crowed.  Then Peter remembered the words that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”  He went out and began to weep bitterly.”  Mat 26:74-75

Peter weeps bitterly, which is our great saint’s display to all of us, that despite our sins, our Lord calls us back for His mercy, we only need to weep bitterly.  Peter knows he’s failed, yet unlike Judas who commits suicide, Peter repents.  Later, the risen Lord demands Peter’s words of commitment.  Peter must answer Jesus three repeated questions, “do you love me?”  Peter must undo his three denials.

Christianity spread like wildfire after these events.  Our God is a patient God though, and His plan and will was to bring the good news to others at the time He felt was right.  The America’s, for example, would have to wait 1500 or so more years before the Good news was spread.  Many still wait today.

All of the world’s roosters probably sang their shrill cry to the unaware while we waited for Peter’s denials because it wasn’t just some weird event in history, but is an everlasting call, sustaining through the ages by a perfect and patient storyteller.  A storyteller pulling you in even today, 2000 plus years later.

Hear the cock crow and if your sins are great, then weep bitterly.

God Bless!

Thanksgiving

My daughter was tasked to write a grace for Thanksgiving dinner.  Apparently, we are going to dispatch with the traditional prayer – “Bless us o Lord for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from the bounty.”  Bounty, of course, references the bounty given to our first parents, Adam and Eve in the garden, where the Lord our God created all things in variety and abundance.

This grace my daughter is to write is basically a statement about for which she is thankful.  Later she asked me how to write it and I responded, “Dear Lord, I’m thankful for:” then fill-in the blank.

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks.  It is a very secular holiday, although it was memorialized by Abraham Lincoln as: “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  Clearly the nation in 1863 wanted to give thanks to our Father in Heaven.  While many thinks of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians having a harvest feast, the feast was to give thanks for the abundance of the harvest which the Father creates.  Thanksgiving doesn’t really have any notion of being religious today, and it certainly doesn’t have to be for anyone, but its perfectly acceptable to make this holiday about our Lord our God, as it was once intended.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining,” John 6:11

As we contemplate and remark to what we are thankful for during this Blessed time, let’s not lose sight of to whom we are thankful.

BTW – my daughter is thankful to the Lord for a great family, food and water.  (Nailed it!)

God Bless!

Love your enemy

I’ve been a manager for some time now, over 10 years, and during that career I have regrettably had to fire 3 people during this time.  Most recently, I ran into one of them at a function and try as I might to have been nice to her, she clearly resents me.  I’m sure that it would make her day if I too had something bad happen to me.  I wonder how she would feel if I got promoted?

I share her feelings of someone in the workplace that I too dislike.  I briefly worked for a company that determined success by how many people liked you, not how you performed; constructive feedback, no matter how well framed and accurate, was not good if that person was well liked.  Add to it a very close nit group that would bad mouth those doing well and I failed.  I knew I wasn’t wanted, so I ran for it, and thanks be to God, I found a better job.  I hold resentment towards my manager and if honest, I want him to fail but I’ve been praying for him.

My prayer for my former boss is simple, I leave it up to God.  I can’t pray my boss is successful because I don’t think God determines success as one being promoted.  The prayer is one of smooth sailing and if it gets rocky, that those challenges help him grow to know God better.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?”  Mat 5:43-46

First, there is not a commandment in the Old Testament that you should hate your enemy, just that at the time, most believed that it was ok to hate your enemy.  Think about it, if someone came to you during Jesus’ time and said, ‘boy I sure hate those Romans who keep taking our money and making salves of us,’ your response would be, well, yeah, me too.

Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies.  That is really hard.  Of course, justice always gets served, after all, we all live on this broken world and none can avoid the final judgement, of which is determined by the Father alone.

If there is a murder on trial, it is ok to want that person to be convicted and serve his life in prison.  During that time, we should pray that the person repents and turn towards God.

God loves me.  I fired someone who hates me and probably considers me her enemy.  Thank God I’m loved.  I know I’m loved and I know I’ve done wrong.  I don’t deserve God’s love.  It would be wrong for me to think that God can overlook my faults and love me but not others.  To that end, I know God loves my former boss as well.  We have a God that doesn’t discriminate His love of us sinners and His mercy is endless and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks be to God.