“You Shall Not Kill” Exodus 20:13
As a little kid, I was jealous of my neighbor. He was my age, but he could hit the baseball better than I could. He would smack the ball into the outfield and everyone would shout “Run! You can do it!”
I never heard “Run!” shouted to me. It was usually “Duck!” or “Open your eyes!” or “Put down the snow-cone until after the game!”
We’ve all experienced knowing someone who’s better than you at something or has something you lack. If you feel happy for them and aspire them to grow and get better, that’s not envy.
That is not how I felt though.
I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn’t want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I’d have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.
I Hate You
In other cases, this envy turned into hatred. Throughout school and sports there were kids I felt anger, envy, and hatred towards. Sometimes it came from my insecurities. I felt bad about myself so I would tear others down. If someone really had qualities about them that I wanted, I’d try to make fun of them. But if someone made fun of me . . . I was shattered. I have vivid memories of someone making a joke about me and all my classmates around us laughing. After something like that feelings of hatred would well up in my heart as I’d go home and recall how silly the other kids made me feel. I lost the Christian love for them. I seemed to forget that despite my feelings for them, God loved them very much.
For some of us, when we think about the fifth commandment we unconsciously skip over it. The truth is, there is more to this commandment than a physical act of violence that results in someone’s death. Killing has roots in envy, anger, and hatred. And I’m sad to admit that I’ve harbored all of those. They produced nothing but sorrow in my life.
Something that’s important is knowing the difference between reacting and responding. For example, when I was a kid on the baseball team I justified everything I did as a reaction to what someone else did to me. Although it seemed like it was natural to feel anger and hatred, it was actually going against the love ingrained in me. When I reacted, it was a quick answer to the problem.
I only found truth when I learned to respond. Responding is different than reacting because responding means you take some time to think. You pray. You ask for advice. You ask God what He wants you to do. Then you act.
God wants us to be joyful. He knows that our joy comes from being intimately close to Him. Envy, anger, and hatred don’t give life, they destroy it. He came that we might have life and have it to the fullest (John 10:10).
Brothers and sisters, we are on this great journey of faith. You are not alone, you are not forgotten. You are loved. And you are awesome! Don’t forget that. Maybe you’ve broken this commandment a few times and need forgiveness. Find a priest and get to Reconciliation. Maybe there is someone in your life who you have hurt or who has hurt you. Pray for them. Pray for the grace in both of your hearts to forgive. If you feel called, talk to them. Lastly, discover and uproot all the things throughout your day that take life instead of give it. Get rid of them. Feel the weight roll off your shoulders. Feel the freedom of walking in the light of the Lord.
How to Obey the Fifth Commandment
- Be grateful for your gifts instead of resenting others for theirs
- Let people know you admire them and don’t put others down
- Strive to be the best you can be instead of thinking you aren’t good enough
- Love everyone you meet instead of harboring feelings of hatred and anger
- Smile and never give others a reason to frown
- Try to be fully alive, to be one with God and don’t take life from others
- Promote the right to life for all people and never encourage or participate in abortion
- Protect the weak and needy instead of looking down on them
- Give yourself completely to God and don’t give up