St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Catechesis on the Commandments, 14-A: Do not desire the spouse of others; do not want the goods of others.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Our meetings on the Decalogue lead us today to the last commandment. We listened to it at the beginning. These are not only the last words of the text, but much more: they are the fulfillment of the journey through the Decalogue, touching the heart of all that is delivered in it. In fact, on closer inspection, they do not add a new content: the indications «you will not desire your wife [...], nor anything that belongs to your neighbor» are at least latent in the commands on adultery and theft; what then is the function of these words? Is it a summary? Is it something more?
Keep in mind that all the commandments have the task of indicating the boundary of life, the limit beyond which man destroys himself and his neighbor, spoiling his relationship with God. If you go further, destroy yourself, destroy even the relationship with God and the relationship with others. The commandments signal this. Through this last word the fact is emphasized that all transgressions arise from a common inner root: evil desires. All sins are born of an evil desire. All. There begins to move the heart, and one enters that wave, and ends in a transgression. But not a formal, legal transgression: in a transgression that wounds itself and others.
In the Gospel the Lord Jesus explicitly says: "From within, in fact, from the heart of men, the intentions of evil come out: impurity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these bad things come from within and make man impure "(Mk 7,21-23).
We therefore understand that the whole journey made by the Decalogue would have no use if it did not reach this level, the heart of man. Where do all these bad things come from? The Decalogue shows itself lucid and profound on this aspect: the point of arrival - the last commandment - of this journey is the heart, and if this, if the heart is not liberated, the rest is of little use. This is the challenge: freeing the heart from all these evil and ugly things. The precepts of God can be reduced to being only the beautiful facade of a life that still remains an existence of slaves and not sons. Often, behind the pharisaic mask of suffocating correctness, something ugly and unresolved hides.
We must instead let ourselves be unmasked by these commands on desire, because they show us our poverty, to lead us to a holy humiliation. Each of us can ask ourselves: but what bad wishes do I often come to? Envy, greed, gossip? All these things that come from inside me. Everyone can ask and it will do him good. Man needs this blessed humiliation, that for which he discovers he can not free himself, the one for which he shouts to God to be saved. St. Paul explains it in an insuperable way, referring to the commandment not to desire (cf. Rom 7: 7-24).
It is vain to think of being able to correct oneself without the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is futile to think of purifying our heart in a titanic effort of our sole will: this is not possible. We must open ourselves to the relationship with God, in truth and in freedom: only in this way can our efforts be fruitful, because there is the Holy Spirit who carries us forward.
The task of the Biblical Law is not that of deluding man that a literal obedience leads him to an artificial and, moreover, unattainable salvation. The task of the Law is to bring man to his truth, that is, to his poverty, which becomes an authentic openness, a personal openness to the mercy of God, who transforms and renews us. God is the only one capable of renewing our heart, as long as we open our hearts to him: it is the only condition; He does everything, but we have to open his heart.
The last words of the Decalogue educate everyone to recognize themselves as beggars; they help us to face the disorder of our heart, to stop living selfishly and become poor in spirit, authentic in the presence of the Father, allowing ourselves to be redeemed by the Son and taught by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the teacher who guides us: let us help. We are beggars, we are asking for this grace.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5: 3). Yes, blessed those who stop deluding themselves by believing that they can save themselves from their weakness without the mercy of God, who alone can heal. Only God's mercy heals the heart. Blessed are those who recognize their evil desires and with a repentant and humbled heart do not stand before God and other men as righteous, but as sinners. It is beautiful that Peter said to the Lord: "Get away from me, Lord, that I am a sinner". This is a beautiful prayer: "Get away from me, Lord, that I am a sinner".
These are those who know how to have compassion, who know how to have mercy on others, because they experience it in themselves.