(Am I My Brother’s Keeper?)
Peace be to you.
Treating the Commandments:
In treating the commandments, it was said that
- the first three, treat of our duties to God, and
- the last six of our duties to neighbor.
In between the two, is the fourth commandment, which is honor thy father and thy mother.
This commandment has been placed between the two because it is a bond between God and neighbor.
- The justice that we owe our parents is very close to the justice that we owe to God and it is also related to the justice we owe our neighbor.
- After God, it was our parents who gave us life and this fourth commandment therefore is the commandment that not only links the two, but which also provides, best of all, for the future of our civilization.
Our Children- how that child is molded:
Napoleon was once asked when does the education of a child begin and he answered, “Twenty years before the child is born, in the education of the mother.” There is much truth to this because the parents take the place of God in the home. The child is so much clay in the hands of the parent, and how that child is molded will decide the future of it.
- When God gave to the parents a child, He made a Crown for that child in Heaven, and woe be to the parents who do not fulfill the high destiny and vocation of that child.
- Hence, one of the gravest dangers facing children can be the example of their parents. Delinquency begins at home. Parental delinquency becomes juvenile delinquency. The Divine Law, therefore, regarding the two has been clearly put in Sacred Scripture. There is a double relationship.
In the Epistle to the Colossians we read, first of all, of the relationship that children should have to parents, then, later on, the relation that parents have to children.
First of all, children in relationship to parents.
Children must be obedient to their parents in every way. It is a gracious sign of serving the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1) In other words, it is counted as obeying God Himself.
Now the parents in relationship to children.
And you parents must not rouse your children to resentment or you will break their spirits. (Ephesians 6:4) There must, therefore, be that gentleness which characterizes the Mercy of God toward us.
Divine Child of Nazareth:
What a beautiful lesson of obedience is given to us in the Divine child of Nazareth. There is no evidence that He ever gave to Mary and Joseph just the nominal right to command. Rather, the scripture says, “He lived there in subjection to them.” (Luke 2:51) Imagine! God subject to man.
God, before whom the angels and principalities and powers tremble, is subject to Mary and to Joseph for Mary’s sake.
Here are the two great miracles of humility and exaltation:
- The God-Man obeying a woman and
- a woman commanding the God-Man.
**The very fact that He became subject to her endows her with Power, and that obedience lasted for 30 years, and by this long span of voluntary obedience, He revealed that the fourth commandment is the bedrock of family life.
In a larger way, how else could the primal sin of disobedience against God be undone, except by the obedience in the flesh of the very God who was once defied.
It was Lucifer who said, “I will not obey,” and Eden caught up that echo. And down the ages, its inflection traveled, worming its way into the nook and crevices of every family where there was gathered a father and mother and a child.
- Here is something to remember: as parents surrender their legitimate authority and primary responsibility to their children, the state begins to take over. When the parents no longer bring up their children in the love and fear of God and their children become juvenile delinquents, then the state takes over the home and takes over the children.
That is why obedience in the home is the foundation of obedience in the commonwealth, for in each instance, conscience submits to a trustee of God’s authority.
World has lost its respect for authority
- If it be true that the world has lost its respect for authority, it is only because it has lost it first in the home. And as we said before, as the home loses its authority, then the state begins to become tyrannical.
There was a bond established between the home and the state. It was democracy that put man on a pedestal. It was feminism that put woman on a pedestal.
- But neither democracy nor feminism can live a generation unless a child is first put on a pedestal, and such is the significance of Nazareth.
How our Lord warned, too, about caring for the child. As He put it, “And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones that believe in Me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea with a millstone hung about his neck.” (Mark 9:42)
It is not to be thought, however, that obedience in the home does not include every other kind of obedience. That commandment embraces what is known as the virtue of pietas, or piety, and it involves family, neighbor and the state.
All authority comes from God, and this commandment obliges us to obey civil authority. Remember when Pilate boasted that he had the power to condemn our Blessed Lord? Our Lord said that he would not have the power unless it came to him from above. As Sacred Scripture tells us, “every soul must be submissive to its lawful superiors. Authority comes from God only, and all authorities that hold sway are of God’s ordinance”. (Ref 2 Corinthians 10:13)
It is very beautiful to realize that both St. Paul and St. Peter ask for obedience to civil rulers, even though the civil ruler was Nero, who would put them both to death. You will also find that those who love God are always the great patriots. Whenever there begins to be a decline of patriotism in a country, there is always a decline the in belief in God.
To Love our Neighbor as Ourselves:
That brings us now to the other commandments, the fifth through the tenth. Our Blessed Lord said that we were to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Now, how do we love ourselves? Well, we love ourselves very much. We enter into a room, we look for the best chair, we do not buy the clothes that will look most unattractive upon us. We choose desserts with considerable discretion in regard to taste. We like praise, in fact, we love ourselves very much. But there are also some things we do not like about ourselves. We do not hate ourselves when we are boorish and loud and are insulting to others or make excessive demands upon our neighbor, or when we tell untruths that hurt our friends. You see, therefore, we can love ourselves and hate ourselves.
What is it that we love in ourselves?
Well, we love what is good in ourselves and we hate what is bad in ourselves. Applying that to our neighbor, we love what is good in them and we hate what is sinful in them. So we love the sinner and we hate the sin. We love the neighbor as a Spiritual-self; we do not necessarily love him as a
Our Blessed Lord, therefore, tied together Love of Himself and love of neighbor and love of ourselves. There could, therefore, be two great errors:
- one is to love God without loving our neighbor, and
- the other would be to love our neighbor without loving God.
We are often invited to take part in brotherhood weeks, brotherhood causes. There is much talk of the brotherhood of man. All that is very good and true, but how can we be brothers unless we have a Common Father?
- To leave the fatherhood of God out of the brotherhood of man is to make us all a race of illegitimate children!
- The love of neighbor is not to be standardized solely upon our love of ourselves, but rather upon the way our Lord has Loved us and that is the way He put it: “This is My Commandment, that you should love one another as I have Loved you.” (John 13:34 ) But who is my neighbor? The one who lives next door? Probably, particularly if he be an enemy.
- In the parable of the Good Samaritan, it was not the one who lived next door but the one who was farthest away who turned out to be the neighbor. We can never tell in advance who is our neighbor, that is to say, the neighbor involved in love your neighbor. The neighbor can be a friend, just as our Blessed Lord was a friend of Lazarus, and the neighbor could be an enemy, as was the case of the man who was injured on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
The neighbor is the one who is in need.
As regards interior esteem, interior value, the saints certainly have more of our esteem than do sinners, but on this earth charity must be guided by the greatness of misery, first Spiritual misery, then corporeal. If there are two who are in misery and both are equally needy, then we can give to the one who is closest to us either by blood or by friendship. We said that the neighbor can also be the enemy, and our Blessed Lord gave us this counsel, “But I tell you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; pray for those who persecute and insult you.” (Matthew 5:44)
“If your brother has something against you.” :
- Love of enemies is actually the touchstone to prove whether or not our love is truly divine, since our Blessed Lord said that before we bring a gift to Him at the altar we should go and be reconciled to our brother if there is any conflict between us.
And our Lord did not say, “If you have something against your brother”. He rather said, “If your brother has something against you.” (Matthew 5:23)
Now how can we be related to our neighbor?
Well, by mind, by body, and then as regards things.
- First of all, our mind. We can be bound up with our neighbor in our thoughts, desires, resolutions, the way we speak to them, we way we listen to them.
- Then, we can be related to our neighbor in body. We may work with them, we may work for them, and then, too, there can be pleasure as regards communication of body with body.
- Finally, we can be bound to our neighbor as regards things; money, land, property, the whole economic order.
We are taking these three; mind, body and mind, because they are – or rather things – because they are the sources, when they are disordered and perverted, of the three major kinds of sin;
- pride, which refers to the mind;
- lust or impurity, which refers to the body; and finally
- avarice, which refers to things.
*Now let us take up our relationship to the neighbor as regards our thoughts, or mind.
Here we deal with temptations, because they are wholly in the mind. There are three elements to a temptation: suggestion, delight and consent. You cannot sin in your mind until there is consent, and consent comes from the will, not from the feeling.
- First the suggestion may come from the eye, the ear, the memory, or the imagination. The suggestion to sin just as Eve was tempted by the word of Satan.
- Then secondly, there can be delight, and that can even be physical. We can feel the repercussion of the thought in our body. It does not make any difference how long that feeling may endure; there is no sin until there is consent. I will to consent to that thought, or I will not to consent.
We are not, therefore, to think that we are bad because we are tempted. We are tempted because we are human. It is only the consent, which is wrong.
The Word Became Flesh:
Now our relationship, as regards the mind to our neighbor, obliges us, therefore, to speak the truth, and why the truth? Well, simply because no other moral virtue can grow up without it and furthermore because of the Sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the Spirit of Truth and also because the membership in the Mystical Body becomes more intimate, as St. Paul tell us, “…when we are bound together by Truth”. (Colossians 4:3)
And the reason we are asked, therefore, to be truthful is simply because the whole Incarnation is Truth.
Remember that, the Word became flesh. In other words, the Inner Word or the Thought of God became Flesh, became externalized, and so, too, as the Son is the image of the Father, so what I say, externally, with my lips must be the image of what is in my mind internally.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us: (John 1:14)
- Therefore, all sins against Truth are forbidden, like lying and boasting, defaming character, injuring another’s good name, rash judgment, falsely accusing others, denying our faith, even under persecution, hypocrisy, and then even resolving to do something that is evil, even when we are unable to carry it out.
- One can commit murder by thinking about it, resolving to do it, even though the thought never passes into act.
That is why the commandments say, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” (Exodus 20:17)
Our Blessed Lord says that any man looking after a woman and lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his own heart. (Matthew 5:28)
- You see, the Church, or rather, our Blessed Lord, does not wait until a thought passes out into act. He’s not interested in just hygiene. He keeps clean all the motivations of action. If all of the little rivers that run into the ocean are kept clean, then the ocean itself will be kept clean.
*Next, we come to the body;
Our body and also the bodies of others:
Now the reason the body is deserving of respect, is because, well, in the Natural Order, it is bound with the Soul to constitute a person and in the Supernatural Order it becomes the Temple of God because we are in a State of Grace.
So Sacred Scripture says to us, “..I appeal to you by God’s Mercies to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to God and worthy of His acceptance.” (Romans 12:1)
We have to take care of our body :
I believe that we already said before that very often people who go in for excessive luxury of body are very often naked on the inside. The more the soul is clothed with virtue, the less need there is of external display. So we have to take care of our body, and we do so not just for biological reasons, but we do it in order to better maintain our Spiritual, Moral Life.
Now this does not mean that sickness is incompatible with holiness. It is not. Sometimes sickness diminishes temptation and unites us with the passion of Our Lord and assures us also the promise of Glory if we suffer in His name. We have to remember that every sin in the mind can be also an assault, not only on the mind but also on the body.
- Therefore, as regards our own body, there will be no such thing as taking our own life, because that belongs to God.
- For a woman, there will be no such thing as abortion,
- there will be no taking the lives of incurable persons,
- there will be no evil thoughts or desires against the neighbor and
no solitary sins, no drunkenness, and all the other sins against the body, which you will find, mentioned in the prayer book. And as there will be no sins against our own body, so not against the body of the neighbor, like murder, abortion, adultery, and the prevention of the fruit of love.
*Finally, we are related to our neighbor by things:
Private property is the external guarantee of human freedom. The right to property is personal but the use of property is social; hence, we are bound to our neighbor in charity to give alms. Superfluities of the rich are the necessities of the poor. Our Blessed Lord says, “I was sick, and you visited me, I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink.” Matthew 25:35
There will, therefore, be also as regards to things, great charity, particularly to the missions of the Church in pagan lands. The Holy Father said, “This is the charity that surpasses all other charities as heaven, earth and eternity time.”
All sins, therefore, as regarding things will be avoided; be no stealing. If there be stealing, there will be the restitution of what was stolen. If we do not know the person from whom something was stolen, then we will give a similar amount to charity. We will repair for unjust damage. We will give full work for a day’s pay. There will be the payment by employers of a living wage. There will no cheating, no cutting of corners.
As Sacred Scripture says, “Thou shalt not carry two different weights in thy wallet, one heavy, one light. A just weight and a true thou shalt always use. All such knavery is hateful to the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-15)
He is the enemy of wrongdoing, and thus the commandments.
God love you.
1. In today’s lesson on – Commandments what stood out the most to you?
2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the subtitle “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” to this lesson?
3. How would you explain to someone seeking a deeper understanding of why God gave us the Commandments ?
4. Now that you have learned more about – Commandments what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?
- 1853. “Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.'[Mt 15:19-20 .] But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.”
1858. “Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.'[Mk 10:19 .] The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.”SECTION TWO – THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
“Teacher, what must I do . . .?”
2052. “‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the ‘One there is who is good,’ as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: ‘If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ And he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of neighbor: ‘You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ Finally Jesus sums up these commandments positively: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'[Mt 19:16-19 .]”
2053. “To this first reply Jesus adds a second: ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'[Mt 19:21 .] This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished,[Cf. Mt 5:17 .] but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity.[Cf. Mt 19:6-12, 21, 23-29 .] The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.”
2054. “Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter. He preached a ‘righteousness (which) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees'[Mt 5:20 .] as well as that of the Gentiles.[Cf. Mt 5:46-47 .] He unfolded all the demands of the Commandments. ‘You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill.’ . . . But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.'[Mt 5:21-22 .]”
2055. “When someone asks him, ‘Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?'[Mt 22:36 .] Jesus replies: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.'[Mt 22:37-40 ; cf. Deut 6:5 ; Lev 19:18.] The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:
The commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.[Rom 13:9-10 .]”
The Decalogue in Sacred Scripture
2056. “The word ‘Decalogue’ means literally ‘ten words.'[Ex 34:28 ; Deut 4:13 ; Deut 10:4 .] God revealed these ‘ten words’ to his people on the holy mountain. They were written ‘with the finger of God,'[Ex 31:18 ; Deut 5:22 .] unlike the other commandments written by Moses.[Cf. Deut 31:9 . 24.] They are pre-eminently the words of God. They are handed on to us in the books of Exodus[Cf. Ex 20:1-17 .] and Deuteronomy.[Cf. Deut 5:6-22 .] Beginning with the Old Testament, the sacred books refer to the ‘ten words,'[Cf. for example Hos 4:2 ; Jer 7:9 ; Ezek 18:5-9 .] but it is in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that their full meaning will be revealed.”
The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20 2-17
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant or your maidservant or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or his maidservant or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me . . .
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain . . .
Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy. . .
Honor your father and your mother . . .
You shall not kill.
Neither shall you commit adultery.
Neither shall you steal.
Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.
Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife .
You shall not desire . . . anything that is your neighbor’s.
A Traditional Catechetical Formula
1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
ARTICLE 4 – THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
He was obedient to them.
2197. “The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority. ”
2198. “This commandment is expressed in positive terms of duties to be fulfilled. It introduces the subsequent commandments, which are concerned with particular respect for life, marriage, earthly goods, and speech. It constitutes one of the foundations of the social doctrine of the Church. ”
2199. “The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons. ”
2200. “Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward: ‘Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.'[Ex 20:12 ; Deut 5:16 .] Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.”
2247. “‘Honor your father and your mother’ (Deut 5:16; Mk 7:10).”
2248. “According to the fourth commandment, God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents and those whom he has vested with authority for our good.”
2249. “The conjugal community is established upon the covenant and consent of the spouses. Marriage and family are ordered to the good of the spouses, to the procreation and the education of children. ”
2250. “‘The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life’ (GS 47 # 1).”
2251. “Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance. Filial respect fosters harmony in all of family life. ”
2252. “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayer, and all the virtues. They have the duty to provide as far as possible for the physical and spiritual needs of their children. ”
2253. “Parents should respect and encourage their children’s vocations. They should remember and teach that the first calling of the Christian is to follow Jesus. ”
2254. “Public authority is obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person and the conditions for the exercise of his freedom. ”
2255. “It is the duty of citizens to work with civil authority for building up society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. ”
2256. “Citizens are obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order. ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”
2257. “Every society’s judgments and conduct reflect a vision of man and his destiny. Without the light the Gospel sheds on God and man, societies easily become totalitarian. “