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Chapter 34. Tenth Commandment: Embrace Poverty of Spirit • 449



The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the

ninth, which is concerned with concupiscence of the

flesh. It forbids coveting the goods of another, as the

root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the seventh com-

mandment forbids. . . . The tenth commandment con-

cerns the intentions of the heart.

—CCC, no. 2534

When Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaimed the eight

Beatitudes as the ways to authentic happiness. The first of these stated

that poverty of spirit would enable us to inherit the Kingdom of God.

In other words, the first step on the road to joy begins with a healthy

detachment from material goods. Later on in the same sermon, Jesus

taught that building up wealth for its own sake is foolishness. We should

be more interested in spiritual riches.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth

and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up

treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor

thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also

will your heart be. (Mt 6:19-21)

The financial scandals that periodically occur in our culture remind

us that greed is a constant threat to moral behavior. It leads many to

conclude that money is the root of all evils. But in fact, “the love of

money is the root of all evils” (1 Tm 6:10). In the study of the Seventh

Commandment, we dealt with the visible acts of stealing and injustice.

The Tenth Commandment looks at the interior attitudes of greed and

envy that lead us to steal and act unjustly.

On the positive side, the Tenth Commandment calls us to practice

poverty of spirit and generosity of heart. These virtues liberate us from

being slaves to money and possessions. They enable us to have a prefer-

ential love for the poor and to be witnesses of justice and peace in the