The seventh Commandment forbids us to do anything wrong to the goods and the property of our neighbor stating: “Thou shalt not steal”. There are two points we need to reflect, in connection with this Commandment:
- The Right of Possession
- Obligation to restitution
Every person has the right to possess earthly goods, that are necessary for his/her sustenance. one can possess goods either by way of one’s labor or by way of gift. Then they become his/her personal property. Thus, acquisition of property is good, when it is gained by one’s own labor or by way of a gift from another.
But this commandment forbids the acquisition of goods by unjust means, either by theft, robbery, cheating etc., what belongs to another. Even though stealing is a sin against the seventh Commandment, it becomes more or less grievous in proportion to the wrong caused to the loser. For example, to steal a few pennies or dimes from the one who is very poor, is more grievous than stealing a small sum from a rich person. Nevertheless, taking even a trifling sum repeatedly from the same person, who is rich, is considered to be a grievous act of theft.
Theft is committed in a number of ways:
- by taking something stealthily
- by taking it by violence
- by not paying wages that are due
- by doing a fraud in buying and selling
- by buying promotions to positions of temporal or spiritual honor.
Just as this Commandment forbids stealing, we must not forget that it also makes it a strict obligation to restore the stolen good or make compensation for the damage done.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.