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!

Wait, was that a miracle?

I’m very close to a family where the daughter became sick and was diagnosed with a malignant tumor.  I love this little girl who was now sick and worried.  My heart ached for this little girl and her father, mother and siblings. 

I turned to God.  I did everything I knew how to do, dedicated rosary prayers, fasting and pleading to the Lord.  I asked God for a miracle.  I pleaded with the Mother Mary to intercede, who herself had a child that was killed.  Mary knows what it means to lose a child and I asked that she not let another mother experience this loss.

I felt at one point, during a tearful prayer, that Mary answered me, that she had already interceded. After all, it was amazing that we caught the tumor so early. 

I was sure, the Lord had heard my prayer.

After a long hard few weeks of surgery, tests and scans, nothing more was found.  The cancer diagnosis though is both rare and aggressive and has a 65% chance of returning with a vengeance.  We were all scared. 

One week later, we learned there was a mistake, the diagnosis had been wrong.  The tumor was not malignant after all. 

Wait, was that a miracle?  God had answered my prayer.  How quickly can we turn to the thought, well, it was all for nothing.  How quickly can we dismiss the prayers, the sadness and turn to one of indignation at the treating physician. 

When I was praying, I was never closer to God.  When I sought Him, I felt comfort.  When I heard the Mother telling me it would all be ok, I felt her love and compassion.  When it was all over, I felt normal, not sad, not worried and I didn’t cry out to God day and night.  The strife brought me closer to God during the battle.

God put this challenge before us, to bring us closer to God and it worked.  God answered my prayers because He is loving and He granted this prayer.  Was it all for not, no.  I was reminded and strengthened when all else looked bleak, that it’s only Him that I desire and it’s only Him that can answer the call. 

Not all cancer ends with a miracle but all challenges can bring us closer to God if you let it.  One thing is for sure, without God, no miracles can occur.  The universe is not a sentient being that grants things, only God can deliver. 

Miracles are everywhere.  He is always at work, He never rests and all things are possible. 

God Bless!

Thanos vs Jesus

I recently tried to argue with a facebook group that is dedicated to Marvel Studio’s content.  The FB Group did not engage with me nor did their community but often a voice can get lost in the midst of comments.  The meme post I tried to engage depicted Spiderman above and Thanos below.  Spiderman’s captioned read, childhood is idolizing Spiderman and for the Thanos picture it stated that Adulthood is realizing Thanos makes more sense.

Spoiler alert!  In Infinity Wars, the recent blockbuster film by Marvel Studios, Thanos gathers ultimate power with the infinity stones to wipe out half of the universe with the snap of his fingers.  Thanos accomplishes this feat and half of everyone just wipes away to death.  Mothers, Fathers, daughters, sons, grandparents, friends, idols, leaders, loved one and more, just wiped away.  If you are married with two kids, the next day, you’d have no spouse and one child would be gone.

Thanos does this because on his world, he voices concerns that their planet’s resources are running thin and something dramatic must be done.  Nothing is done and everyone dies in war and famine.  Thanos is proved right and therefore, he sets forth to kill half of everyone on all of the other planets lest the universe meet the same fate.

On the facebook thread, more than a few people argued Thanos was justified.  A few days later, the FB group posted an Illustration where the villain was kind to his daughter, who hates him, in some twisted way to make Thanos look loving and caring.  Later, of course, Thanos must sacrifice his own daughter, against her desires, to gain more power.  While watching the movie, I believed that Thanos believed there was no other way to save us other than killing half of everyone, but I didn’t believe there was no other way; I thought Thanos was a psychopath.

Contrast, for a moment, Jesus’ saving power.  Jesus comes to earth and offers everyone salvation and He loves us radically and wants us to be saved by following Him.  Jesus though doesn’t force us to love Him or follow Him and He doesn’t just wipe us away.  Jesus offers salvation, He offers us Grace – but its often rejected.

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

“Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:2, 5-6

Thanos doesn’t offer salvation to all, only half – and that half will weep their lives away, having lost half of everyone they’ve loved.

Is Thanos merciful?  Is murder the only option we run to when faced with potential doom?

Dan Brown’s book, Inferno, had a similar plot, to sterilize a majority of the population to stem the growth of human civilization.  How many mothers weep because they are unable to have children?  Dan Brown’s book depicts this forced sterilization as humane.

When good is bad and bad is good you know the devil has got you.  When murdering is mercy and sterilizing unwilling man and women is kindness, you’ve fallen into the depths of the lies of the evil one.  In our world, those that are religious are thought to be hateful by many.  Many think if you follow Jesus, you have hate in your heart, but I tell you, when people think Thanos makes sense, who really has hate in their heart?

Will the debates over our population growth, our resources and our planet devolve into something worse than just fictional words and stories?  Its scary to think.

Jesus makes sense.  Debate His method.  He came, sinless, the sacrificial lamb, with ultimate power but He doesn’t destroy us, He loves us.  He offers radical love – not just love your loved ones, but love everyone, enemies too.  St Maximillian while in a concentration camp, offers his life for another man.  When the Nazi prison guards start dragging a Jewish man to be put in a building and starved to death, St Maximillian says, take me instead, I’m a Catholic Priest.  Following Christ means to love to the point where you’re willing to lay your life down for another.  Thanos doesn’t even make sense when compared to St Maximillian.  And what if Thanos had to wipe himself away with half of all, well then he’d just be like a terrorist, no different than those on 9/11.

Jesus offers something greater than death, salvation and life everlasting.  He offers His love.  Oh that the whole world, on the brink of disaster, fell to his and her knees begging for our Blessed Savior.  Thanos would wipe out half, but the remaining would still be men and women, living in a still broken world filled with wrong desires, sinning against a loving God.  The problem with this world is always one thing, sin, the answer is never, more sin.

God Bless!

King David’s 9 steps when facing disaster

The story is familiar to many of King David, from which the family line leads to Jesus.  David sins by sleeping and impregnating Uriah’s wife Bathsheba.  David then tries to deceive Uriah by calling him back from the war to also have relations with Bathsheba, tricking Uriah into thinking the child would be Uriah’s.  Uriah does not have relations and David sends Uriah to his death in battle, making his solders withdraw from assisting the general in battle, thus killing him.

You may be aware of this story but the rest is not as well covered.  The sin is great and the prophet Nathan declares that God will punish David by taking the resulting son’s life.  The child becomes ill and David puts on a sackcloth and fasts, sleeping on the floor.

“David besought God for the child.  He kept a fast, retiring for the night to lie on the ground clothed in sackcloth.” 2Sam 12:16

The child does indeed die and when David learns of this he washes and breaks his fast.

“Rising from the ground, David washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes.  Then he went to the house of the Lord and worshiped.  He returned to his own house, where at his request food was set before him, and he ate.  His servants said to him: “What is this you are doing?  While the child was living, you fasted and wept and kept vigil; now that the child is dead, you rise and take food.”  He replied: “When the child was living, I fasted and wept, thinking, ‘Perhaps the Lord will grant me the child’s life.’” 2Sam 12:20-23

It can be easy to judge David and his faults but its important to remember this is a great king that united the tribes of Israel but was human with faults.  Over 2,000 years later, we know his story and from his line comes Jesus.  David is an important man in history, loved and blessed by God.  Don’t miss his importance and don’t think for a moment he didn’t pay for his sins, because he did and David still loves God and God still loves him.

The story of David has many important pieces but here I’d like to focus on David’s actions when faced with certain disaster.  Faced with doom that comes to fruition, here’s what David does:

  1. He runs to God
  2. He fasts
  3. He puts on a sackcloth
  4. He lays on the ground
  5. He pleads with God
  6. He cries
  7. He hopes
  8. He thinks, God is going to do whatever he wants but I’m going to plead with him anyway
  9. He accepts God’s punishment

It’s a pretty good 9 step process to try and get God to answer a serious prayer.  God is going to do what He wants anyway but like David, think, hey, perhaps…

I can tell you, I’ve fasted, reminding myself that I hunger for the Lord.  I’ve laid on the ground once, thinking myself not worthy of comfort and I’ve pleaded with the Lord, thinking, perhaps He’ll grant me this prayer.  Even though David’s prayer was not answered, David’s repentance and plead is worthy of imitation.

IF I may be so bold to add one little thing to the process, I’d add, ask Mother Mary (she hadn’t been born yet, so we can’t fault David here) for her intercession and while I’m at it, I might ask for intercession from my patron saint and friend, St Pio.

God Bless!

The Onion Woman

I recently finished The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and wanted share a story within the book, told by the character Grushenka to Alyosha.  Grushenka, at this point in the story, is coming to the realization that she is a wicked woman, with pettiness and anger in her heart.  She is extracting revenge for perceived (and real) slights to her character.  Alyosha is a Christ like character, very pure and good.  Grushenka feels she is the wicked woman in this story, though not yet dead.

Once upon a time there was a woman, and she was wicked as wicked could be, and she died.  And not one good deed was left behind her.  The devils took her and threw her into the lake of fire.  And her guardian angel stood thinking: what good deed of hers can I remember to tell God?  Then he remembered and said to God: once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar woman.  And God answered: now take that same onion, hold it out to her in the lake, let her take hold of it, and pull, and if you pull her out of the lake, she can go to paradise, but if the onion breaks, she can stay where she is.  The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her: here, woman, he said, take hold of it and I’ll pull.  And he began pulling carefully, and had almost pulled her all the way out, when other sinners in the lake saw her being pulled out and all began holding on to her so as to be pulled out with her.  But the woman was wicked as wicked could be, and she began to kick them with her feet: ‘It’s me who’s getting pulled out, not you; it’s my onion, not yours.’ No sooner did she say it than the onion broke.  And the woman fell back into the lake and is burning there to this day.  And the angel wept and went away.

Love is willing the good of others; God wants us to love Him and by doing so, love others.  The onion woman clearly doesn’t do that; she is selfish and petty and lacks an ability to love.  She’s offered Grace and Mercy but doesn’t know what to do with it because she knows nothing of God.  She learns nothing from her time in the lake of fire and as a result, causes her own fall and her own misery.

Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 20 where the owner of a vineyard continues to hire laborers throughout the day and at the end of the day, pays each the same amount.  The first workers, those that had worked all day long, had expected more wage than they had previously agreed to work for and more than those that had worked for only an hour.  The owner responds:

“Take what is yours and go.  What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?  Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?  Are you envious because I am generous?” Mat 20:15-16

I hope this relates well to you but I’ll get right to the point.  Any time you are envious of others, be careful that you don’t break your onion.  If you feel your onion is breaking – repent!

God Bless!

Cleansing Tears

In the Gospel Luke, Chapter 7, Jesus enters the house of Simon, a Pharisee.  Simon calls Jesus teacher, so we understand that there is some recognition of Jesus’ abilities by the Pharisee.  Somehow though, a sinful woman, a common lady of the street has also entered this house.  We are unsure what her sins are, what her name is, and we do not know how she came to be in the house of Simon other than she learned Jesus was around and sought Him out.  It has been suggested that this woman is Mary Magdalene and perhaps also, one in the same, the woman who Jesus’ saves from being stoned.

All three, perhaps more, are in this house and the woman is weeping.  She is weeping so much that a sufficient amount of water is being produced.  From this water, she is washing the dirty feet of our Blessed Savior.  This scene, to me, is dramatic and strange and to add to it, she is now cleaning His feet further with her hair and kissing His feet.

“Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:37-39

There is much to this story.  The Pharisee seeks a teacher while the woman seeks a savior.  The woman’s sins, which are great, are forgiven and thus loves Jesus more than another.  Finally, we come to understand and appreciate the love of Jesus, who can even love a great sinner, where most turn their heads away in disgust.

What strikes me is the scene.  If I saved a person’s life from a burning building, would they seek me out if I were in town, hysterically crying at my feet?  My reaction would likely be of humility, giving all glory to God for saving her (right place, right time).  I most certainly would not nonchalantly continue with my dinner party as if all were normal, while a woman wept.

The woman pours out her sins in tears onto the Blessed Saviors feet, unburdening her heart as Jesus forgives them all.  Jesus, as a man, is made clean by her tears, her soul is made clean by her actions through His great Mercy.  Jesus doesn’t demand her repentance by accusing her of her sins but she freely and dramatically repents and weeps.

I’ve wept.  I wept when my daughters were born.  I wept when I told my wife about the time an Angel saved me, even though I wasn’t deserving.  I wept during a difficult time in my life when I went to adoration and couldn’t control myself.  Each time I wept, I felt better but never have my tears been so great as this woman in the story.

Finally, Jesus doesn’t admonish her actions, weeping and cleaning and kissing Him.  He is not humble of the fact that He has forgiven her and ask her to stop.  He allows her to wash His feet with her tears and clean them with her hair.  He let’s her do these things to Him for her own sake.  It is for her that it is good.  It is perfectly alright and recorded for all history of her actions.

Jesus is better than us and He knows it.  The woman’s actions aren’t over the top, so He doesn’t fake modesty.  Jesus allows her to fuss over Him because He knows that He truly is the Savior and we should run to Him, weeping away our sins as He wipes them away with His great mercy.

God Bless!

Blessings in Disguise

I have a good friend that has a genetic disorder that makes walking difficult.  With age, his ailment has become worse and he must use a cane to walk now.  His walk is labored but he always wears a smile.  He has learned to live with this difficulty and although at times it does weigh on him emotionally, by and large, I know him as a good and trusted friend.

On a drive, we got to discussing about a time in his career when he was at odds with his boss.  He commented that he hated his boss and hated his work.  One morning, dreading work, he took his sweet time getting to the office.  He was in no rush to be scrutinized for any perceived shortcomings.

The sun was shining, there was a slight chill in the morning but it seemed like the day would warm.  His ailment made riding the subway difficult so on that day, he decided to take a cab.

As he got out of his cab, he looked up to see a giant hole and smoke emanating from the world trade center’s tower 1.  He got back in his cab and went home to his wife and two children.

My friend would have never made it out of that tower given his handicap and he would have been early to work if he wasn’t at odds with his boss.  The difficulty in his career was God’s plan to save him that day.

Men flew that plane into those towers on that awful day.  God saved my friend that day and Jesus saved souls.

Sometimes God is at work and we don’t know it.  Sometimes, trials have reasons that we can’t see.  I can’t explain every tragedy or hardship, but I know God loves us, he allows free will even when that free will yields sin and through that sin, God can bring about good as it did with my friend.

Do your best to let life unfold before you.  Try and make sound decisions based on the Church’s teachings.  Use your brain and conscience in life and work hard but know one thing, you are not in control and you can’t always see the Blessed Trinity hard at work.  Trust in the Lord.  God Bless!