Life in Christ
Beginning with the Old Testament, all kinds of juridical
measures (the jubilee year of forgiveness of debts, prohibition of
loans at interest and the keeping of collateral, the obligation to
tithe, the daily payment of the day-laborer, the right to glean vines
and fields) answer the exhortation of
“For the poor
will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, ‘You
shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the
poor in the land.’”
Jesus makes these words his own: “The poor
you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
so doing he does not soften the vehemence of former oracles
against “buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of san
dals . . . ,” but invites us to recognize his own presence in the poor
who are his brethren:
When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and
the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: “When we
serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail
to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.
“You shall not steal” (
thieves, nor the greedy . . . , nor robbers will inherit
the kingdom of God” (
The seventh commandment enjoins the practice of
justice and charity in the administration of earthly
goods and the fruits of men’s labor.
The goods of creation are destined for the entire hu
man race. The right to private property does not abol
ish the universal destination of goods.
The seventh commandment forbids theft. Theft is the
usurpation of another’s goods against the reasonable
will of the owner.
Every manner of taking and using another’s property
unjustly is contrary to the seventh commandment.
The injustice committed requires reparation. Commu
tative justice requires the restitution of stolen goods.
252 P. Hansen,