The first murder on earth was committed by Cain when he slew Abel. "And Cain said to Abel his brother: Let us go forth abroad. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. And the Lord said to Cain: Where is thy brother Abel? And he answered: I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:8-9). Murderers do not act as brothers of the murdered.
By the fifth commandment we are commanded to take proper care of our own spiritual and bodily well being and that of our neighbor. Sins against this commandment are many, including murder and suicide, and also anger, hatred revenge, drunkenness, and bad example. We may almost say that all injury to body and soul is a violation of this commandment.
"The works of the flesh are manifest, which are…enmities, contentions…anger, quarrels…murders, drunkenness, carousings, and such-like. And concerning these I warn you, as I have warned you, that they who do such things will not attain the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5: 19-21).
Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure, combined with a desire to inflict punishment on the offender. It is contrary to the spirit of Christ, Who is meek and humble of heart. We must take care not to hurt or wound another's feelings. If we fall into the misfortune of doing so, we must apologize or make amends in some other way, "Do not let the sun go down upon your anger" (Ephesians 4: 26).
Anger often arises from pride or envy. Those who think much of themselves get angry at every supposed slight or injury. They should remember Christian charity, and fear these words: "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment" (Matthew 5:22). "But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. For the wrath of man does not work the justice of God" (James 1:19-20).
Hatred is a kind of habitual anger, a strong dislike of or ill-will towards anyone. When a person hates someone, he sees no good in the one hated; he would like to see evil rain down on the one hated; he rejoices in all misfortune of the one hated. Hatred is a sin because it violates God's commandment: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
If we hate certain qualities of a person, but have no antagonism towards the person himself, our feeling is not necessarily sinful. It is not hatred to detest the evil qualities of others; we must hate the sin, but not the sinner. We must be careful, however, not to commit rash judgment, regarding qualities, as we cannot know all circumstances; let us have charity towards all.
The sin of revenge is the desire to inflict immoderate or unjust punishment on someone who has injured us, from a motive of anger. When serious, revenge is vengeance, a sin against charity and justice, most sinful and unchristian. However much we are injured, we have no right to take the law into our hands.
Saint Paul said, "Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). "He that shall seek to revenge himself shall find vengeance from the Lord" (Eccliastes 28:1).
Murder is the voluntary and unjust killing of a human being.
Murder is a great sin. A murderer violates the rights of God over human life, and, besides taking a life, robs his victim of the opportunity to gain merits for Heaven, and prepare himself for death.
God created man, and has supreme dominion over life. "You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15).
The direct intention to kill an innocent person is always forbidden, as against this commandment, whether it be by public or private authority. And the human body may not be mutilated unless that were the only way to preserve the health or save a life. Also, since violation of the body is forbidden except to save life or health, anyone performing sterilization commits grave sin.
Some would propagate the idea of euthanasia, or "mercy killing", a direct and deliberate killing of those in great pain, of the defective, moronic, or otherwise incapacitated. Such "mercy killers" are murderers, who usurp the rights of God over life.
A mother bearing a child should be very careful to protect and preserve the life of her child. As the soul is created at the very moment of conception, anything willfully done which results in the death of even an unborn child is murder.
Not even to save the mother's life may an unborn child be killed by direct abortion. If the death of the child results secondarily, in an attempt to save the mother's life, and after all precautions have been taken to safeguard the child, this is indirect abortion, and is permitted, for grave cause. In the United States one pregnancy out of three ends in abortion and since 1973 this has been allowed shamelessly by the hideous Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which cries out to vengeance to God for since that time a minimum of 40 million have died, that's 4000 abortions a day. 40 million souls have been denied the very gift of life that God deigned. Man has usurped God and for this he will have to account for. Anyone who enables this murder, is an accomplice to murder - whether by practicing, promoting, condoning, ignoring this grave sin or voting for an issue or candidate that will ennoble them to further the culture of death platform is also an accomplice and will also have to answer to God for their actions that fly in the face of God's Laws and the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church.
It is lawful to kill animals for food, because God has given them for the use of man. The fifth commandment forbids the killing only of human beings. God Himself commanded the killing of animals for sacrifice, after having given this commandment.
It is our duty to care for animals, refrain from tormenting them, and from killing any useful animal without reasons; but we must not lavish on them exaggerated affection, as if they were idols.
It is lawful to take another's life in the following cases.
In self-defense, or the defense of another unjustly attacked. An innocent victim may kill only under the strict provisions that he or she is protecting themself from death or criminal assault. One may defend life or property against enemies, going so far as to kill. One however, may not do more than what is needed for defense; if wounding an assailant is sufficient, it would be wrong to kill him. Also one is not justified to kill in order to protect property of trifling value, such as setting a trap to kill a chicken thief. That would be murder.
In executing criminals condemned by legitimate authority. Society must protect itself from crime, and may, through constituted authority, order a sentence of death. Though capital punishment is also an unfortunate situation and, in the best-case scenario would best be eliminated in all governments. However, to protect the innocent, capital punishment serves as a deterrent to prevent the guilty from murdering the innocent. However,
private persons and mobs have no right to put anyone to death. Lynching is murder.
In a just war. A nation has the right to exist and protect itself. It is lawful for it to repel by force those seeking to destroy it, and thus to defend its rights in a grave matter. Nations may also assist other nations unjustly attacked, or whose rights are encroached upon. World Wars I and II are excellent examples of this in America's role in aiding England and France as part of the Ally alliance against Germany. War, however, is an evil, which must not be embarked upon except as a last resort.
Next Thursday: The Fifth Commandment - Caring for Our Health and Life