Living our faith in the real world
The Fifth Commandment:
You shall not kill.*
The Fifth Commandment:
You shall not kill.*
You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.
====2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church
====“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.” [said Granny Weatherwax]
“It’s a lot more complicated than that…” [said Brother Oats]
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.” [said Granny Weatherwax]
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes…” [said Brother Oats]
“But they starts with thinking about people as things.” [said Granny Weatherwax]
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum
===========The Hebrew word used in this commandment is ratsach (murder). St. Jerome’s translation of the Hebrew into Latin also used the word “murder” instead of the translation “kill” which we see in the headline above.
This distinction of “you shall not murder” instead of “you shall not kill” is a crucial one. It is what establishes the Catholic Church’s prohibition of taking innocent life. So important is this teaching that mere prohibition is not enough. We are called upon to protect, defend, and nurture life from conception to natural end. Jesus both simplified and expanded upon this teaching when giving the Sermon on the Mount as we see above in the quote from Matthew.
As straightforward as the idea of “not murdering” seems, our society is such that moral and political quagmires are opened every time it arises. Without very careful consideration of the Church’s teachings, the issues this commandment covers are likely to raise modern hackles against what are perceived to be insensitive dictates about just war, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, stem cell research, and more.
In practically every case where someone objects to Church teachings it is through a laudable desire to express compassion and mercy. Those objections generally are concerned with the “quality-of-life.” However, the great danger of trying to judge the “quality” of another’s life is that when a life is judged to be “not worth living” then action must be taken to solve the problem. The only alternative to life is death. This is especially true as governments and institutions become involved in “life issues.”
Bureaucracies have a great tendency to group and categorize situations without taking the time to look closely at each human being involved. People become equivalent to “things.” Things are easy to dispose of.
The Church, on the other hand, has established her teachings with an eye to “sanctity-of-life.” That is to say, the Church knows life is sacred because God created and maintains it. We come from God, we live in relationship with God, and we return to Him when we die. He alone knows us well enough for judgment.
From the knowledge that life is sacred comes teachings which consistently protect all life and which have been called the “seamless garment” of the Church. The seamless garment of life is a reference from John 19:23 to the seamless robe of Jesus, which his executioners did not tear apart. This is the basis for the fact that Catholics cannot protect any life at the expense of other lives.
Clearly, we will be delving into complicated issues as we explore the Fifth Commandment and how we live our faith as modern Catholics. Different issues relating to this commandment will be examined individually in upcoming bulletin inserts
===========*Ex 20:13; Cf. Deut 5:17.
Source Materials• Catechism of the Catholic Church
• Evangelium Vitae (1995 encyclical) by Pope John Paul II
• Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft