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Life in Christ

607

2537

It is not a violation of this commandment to desire to

obtain things that belong to one’s neighbor, provided this is done

by just means. Traditional catechesis realistically mentions “those

who have a harder struggle against their criminal desires” and so

who “must be urged the more to keep this commandment”:

. . . merchants who desire scarcity and rising prices, who

cannot bear not to be the only ones buying and selling so that

they themselves can sell more dearly and buy more cheaply;

those who hope that their peers will be impoverished, in

order to realize a profit either by selling to them or buying

from them . . . physicians who wish disease to spread;

lawyers who are eager for many important cases and tri­

als.

322

2538

The tenth commandment requires that

envy

be banished

from the human heart. When the prophet Nathan wanted to spur

King David to repentance, he told him the story about the poor man

who had only one ewe lamb that he treated like his own daughter

and the rich man who, despite the great number of his flocks,

envied the poor man and ended by stealing his lamb.

323

Envy can

lead to the worst crimes.

324

“Through the devil’s envy death en­

tered the world”:

325

We fight one another, and envy arms us against one an­

other. . . . If everyone strives to unsettle the Body of Christ,

where shall we end up? We are engaged in making Christ’s

Body a corpse. . . . We declare ourselves members of one

and the same organism, yet we devour one another like

beasts.

326

2539

Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of

another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for

oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it

is a mortal sin:

St. Augustine saw envy as “

the

diabolical sin.”

327

“From

envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the

misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his

prosperity.”

328

322

Roman Catechism,

III, 37.

323 Cf.

2 Sam

12:1-4.

324 Cf.

Gen

4:3-7;

1 Kings

21:1-29.

325

Wis

2:24.

326 St. John Chrysostom,

Hom. in 2 Cor.

27, 3-4: PG 61, 588.

327 Cf. St. Augustine,

De catechizandis rudibus

4, 8: PL 40, 315-316.

328 St. Gregory the Great,

Moralia in Job

31, 45: PL 76, 621.

2317

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