Reflecting on Exodus 20:1-17
I hope that you had the great grace of being made to memorize the Ten Commandments as a child. But in case your brain has had to delete them to make room for the thousands of other things you’ve needed to stuff in there through the years, take the list out of today’s first reading and see how long it takes to commit each one to memory again.
It was easier when we were kids. Our brains were more supple, of course, but, more than that, it was easy to confidently recite commandments we were certainly never going to break. I think of those commandments a lot these days, during tax time. It turns out that a lot of us are willing to break the seventh commandment because, well, we can.
Thou shalt not steal seems like such an obvious command. No society can prosper when there is no deterrence from stealing from each other. Certainly we can all point to government waste, and entitlements we deem immoral. Funding those in our taxes is a bitter pill. In other cases, though, hiding assets is meant to benefit the wealthier member of a divorcing couple, to the detriment of the children of that union.
These past two tax seasons have been particularly appalling as poor, single mothers realize that their “smart, savvy” ex has stolen their stimulus check from them. During the pandemic, the most obvious sin against the seventh commandment has been the number of fraudulent unemployment claims filed—sevenfold the number of authentic claims! Do we not realize that this is theft?
We need a “come to Jesus” moment. Thou shalt not steal is not a suggestion. It’s an honest-to-God commandment.
Which commandment am I struggling with this Lent?
Kathy McGovern ©2021