Continuing his catechesis on the Ten Commandments, Pope Francis at his General Audience on Wednesday focused on the Seventh Word: You shall not steal.
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope says “the goods of creation are destined for the whole human race”; and this “universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.”
In a world where there are so many differences, so many differences of conditions, God has provided resources in such a way that all human beings must help one another, in order to ensure that everyone’s primary needs can be met. “If there is hunger in the world, it is not for lack of food!” the Pope says. “What is lacking is a free and far-seeing entrepreneurship, that ensures adequate production, and a solidarity-based approach that ensures an equitable distribution.”
This, Pope Francis says, is the perspective that allows us to understand the deeper and fuller meaning of the commandment “You shall not steal.” Ownership, he says, is a responsibility; we can only truly possess “that which we know how to give.” If there are things which we cannot give away, “it is because those things possess me, have power over me, and I am a slave to it.”
Here, the Pope says, we can once more look to the example of Christ Himself, who, “though He was God, ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself’; and He has enriched us with His poverty.” While humanity continually strives for more, “God redeems humanity by becoming poor.” What makes us truly rich, Pope Francis says, “is not goods, but love.”
The Holy Father concludes his catechesis with the reflection that “once more Jesus Christ reveals to us the full meaning of the Scriptures. ‘You shall not steal’ means ‘love with your goods, profit by your means to love as you can. Then your life will become good and the possession will truly become a gift. Because life is not a time for possessing but for giving.’”