You Shall Not Covet!

Exodus 20:17
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

The devil always sends temptations into the world in pairs in the hope (often fulfilled) that in running from one kind of sin, we will run straight into the arms of the opposite sin.  In a world filled with tremendous greed and the celebration of wealth amassed by wicked people using unscrupulous means, it become extremely easy to justify covetousness.  But covetousness is perhaps the most fruitless form of sin there is.  With greed, you at least are experience possession (though not real enjoyment) of the thing you own.  With covetousness, you get only the raw envy of the other, with no compensation at all.  This, of course, only feeds the sense of covetousness more and the imprisoning and embittering cycle continues and deepens. Covetousness is rooted not in the thing we think we want, but in our own desire and our refusal to accept from God the peace that He desires to give us in our circumstances.  Covetousness piles sin on top of our poverty.  St. Francis, following his Master, found a different way: the way of Lady Poverty which celebrated his dependence on God with freedom and joy.  It’s as possible today as it was in Francis’ day.  But it takes a choice to rely on God, not on things, to give meaning and value to our life.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage