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제목 Fifth Commandment - “Thou shalt not kill!”(2016-03-13)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-03-16














Fifth Commandment - “Thou shalt not kill!”(2016-03-13)


My dear brethren,
After the honour due to our parents who have given us life from God, the next Commandment bids us to respect human life itself: “Thou shalt not kill!” (Ex. 20:13) The fundamental reason why we should respect human life is first and foremost because human life is the work of God: we are not allowed to harm, much less to destroy the noblest of God’s creature on earth, made “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1:26)! Not even our own life: because we did not make our own life, we received it from God and we ought therefore to take proper care of it. Hence suicide is a grievous sin, and one cannot excuse himself saying that it is his own life: we are not allowed to destroy what God has given us. Even at the end of our life, if we are tired of living because of various illnesses, we still ought to feed ourselves and are not allowed to commit euthanasia, which is a suicide. The second reason why we ought to respect the life of our neighbour is given by our Lord: “All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:12). We want our neighbours to respect our life, we ought to respect theirs.


The killing of an innocent is always a very grave sin. Unfortunately our modern world has multiplied such killing, especially by abortion – and now also by euthanasia. Abortion is a particularly grievous sin because it is against four Commandments of God, with three aggravating circumstances: it is evidently against the fifth commandment because it is the killing of an innocent baby; it is against the fourth commandment because nothing is more opposed to the care parents must have for their children; it is against the sixth commandment because it is the ultimate destruction of the transmission of life; and it is against the first commandment because it deprives the child from Baptism. To these four mortal sins, there are three added aggravating circumstances: indeed the more innocent the victim the worse the murder, and who is more innocent than a baby in the womb? Also the weaker the victim the worse the murder, and who is weaker than a baby in the womb?


Lastly the more cruel the murder, the worse it is; and abortion often includes the dismemberment of a child, or other atrocious actions, which if practiced on an adult would shock the world because of the cruelty. And to all this, one should add the physical and psychological harm often done to the mother herself – and to the father. One understands that the Church has some severe penalties for such crime.


Yet God’s mercy is greater than even the worst sin, thus there is room for mercy, even for such crime. But there is need of a true penance and change of life. One good way to make reparation for it is to be active in the pro-life movement. There is also need of much prayer and reparation on the part of the faithful to obtain the grace of conversion for all those who had fallen into the sin of abortion.


It is evident that the fifth commandment forbids experimentation on human embryos and the trafficking of human body parts taken from aborted babies, such as is the practice of Planned Parenthood: both the abortion clinic that sells such parts and the laboratories that buy them for experimentations are guilty of enormous crimes. When politicians (often corrupted by money) allow such things, that does not render them legitimate at all, but rather the politicians that approve such practice of experimentations on human embryos are themselves guilty of all these crimes that their laws have permitted. No one should vote for such politicians.


It is important to note that the fifth commandment does not forbid death penalty. On the contrary, the Old Testament is very clear that the legitimate authority in a country has the power to exercise justice and punish the greater crimes with death penalty: there are many examples of it in the Old Testament: thus idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery and many other crimes were punished with it. In the New Testament, though our Lord Jesus Christ stresses the importance of mercy and forgiveness, He did not remove death penalty for the greater crimes, such as cold-blood murder, etc. And the whole Tradition of the Church approved it; St Thomas Aquinas explains that, as a doctor would remove a gangrenous member to save the body, so the legitimate authority may remove a dangerous human individual from the human community for the sake of the common good if that individual was thus guilty and a threat to common good (e.g. drug traffickers incur death penalty in Singapore).


Similarly the fifth commandment does not forbid legitimate defence, but it stresses that such defence is legitimate only if the defence does not exceed the threat. This applies to individuals and to countries: it may defend itself even by war, but it may not invade the neighbour’s land and use war for self-aggrandisement and greed! War is in itself a great evil and a great punishment of God against sinful mankind. It can be the occasion of many sins, especially of hatred, and even in a legitimate defensive war, one must be careful to respect the due measure and avoid hatred.


Hence one sees that private vengeance is a sin against the fifth commandment: it has an appearance of justice, yet since no one is a good judge in one’s own case, if one thinks he has been harmed by his neighbour, he may not take justice in his own hands, but rather should bring his case in front of the court so that a fair judgement may be given.


The fifth commandment not only forbids the killing but also the mutilation and other bodily harm done to the neighbour or even to self. Hence the use of drugs, since they do great damage to the body, is a grave sin against the fifth commandment; even the heavy use of tobacco to the point of grave harm to one’s health is also a sin against the fifth commandment. Other drugs, that are stronger and cause addiction faster are grievous sins even from the first use.

A typical example of mutilation is sterilization, not only permanent but even “temporary” such as contraception: it destroys the natural ability to have children and as such is a kind of mutilation, and is forbidden by the fifth commandment. Such mutilation contains therefore two mortals sin, one against the fifth commandment because it is a mutilation and one against the sixth commandment because of its motive which is the abuse of the powers of transmission of life. In the modern world, doctors often push women to sterilise themselves after the first or the second birth, and good mothers must resist their pressures in order to be faithful to God.


Drunkenness is also forbidden by the fifth commandment, not only because of the bodily harm, but more essentially because it deprives (temporarily) man from the use of his reason, which is evidently a grievous matter. In such matters, one should avoid not only full drunkenness, but also partial one, and remain in a safe area, taking rather less than too much alcohol. Especially if one had fallen into such sins in the past, he should systematically take less than the safe limit, in order to make reparation for his previous sins and avoid any danger of falling again. The best way is not even to put a foot in drinking places (pubs, etc.) and avoid the purchase of alcohol at all.


Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment” (Mt. 5:21-22). Hence our Lord taught us that even anger is against the fifth commandment, not that it is usually a mortal sin, but that it can become a mortal sin, especially when it is joined with hatred and causes bodily harm.


The fifth commandment strictly forbids family violence: not only physical violence but also verbal violence. Yet it does not forbid discipline and correction of the children, but with “the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13): parents should not correct their children out of anger, but out of love, for the very good of the children; they should remain in full control of themselves and wait their feeling of anger to calm down before they exercise correction.


Now the Council of Trent teaches in its catechism that the fifth commandment has a positive aspect, which is the opposite of murder: it commands us to positively love our neighbour and especially to forgive the offenses received and to practice patience, mildness and beneficence. Our Lord Jesus Christ in the holy Gospel often insists on the forgiveness of injuries: “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing” (Mt. 5:23-26). St Augustine says that God wants our heart more than our gifts.


St Paul puts it very simply: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good” (Rom. 12:21). And again: “be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ” (Eph. 4:32). And St Peter says: “Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).


The greatest incentive to the forgiveness of injuries is the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Who, when he was reviled, did not revile: when he suffered, he threatened not: but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly” (1 Pet. 2:23), going so far as to pray for his enemies on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).


When one is tempted by revenge, or by anger, it is good, it is very useful to repeat many times in one’s heart these words of Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” These holy words will calm the tempest in our soul and bring back peace. Also St James recommends to be “slow to speak, and slow to anger” (Jac. 1:19): when you feel anger rising in our heart, slow down, speak slowly, breathe slowly, and repeat the words of Jesus in your heart until you have recovered the full control of yourself. Then if needed (e.g. for the correction of children) you may speak in a stern manner, but with full control of self, slowly, avoiding carefully any excess in words.


Hence, as opposed to any bodily harm, our Lord Jesus Christ requires the practice of mercy: “For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me… Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:35-36,40). The practice of such mercy is a great way to make reparation for sins against the fifth commandment.


Let us pray to the blessed Virgin Mary, the gentle Virgin, model of all mothers, that she may help us to respect human life, and to practice these virtues of forgiveness, meekness and mercy: Mother of Mercy, pray for us! O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us and make our heart like unto thine! Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney(SSPXASIA)