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Stealing: More going on than meets the eye

There’s a lot more stealing going on than meets the eye. Stealing is masked most of the time. But God sees our thefts. Stealing is not confined simply to taking other people’s cash, or to robbery, or to looting a store. Stealing is far more extensive than what comes to our attention in news reports.

Filing false insurance claims and filing false income tax returns is theft. It means that others have to pay for what we have either falsely claimed, or for our non-payment of our fair share in supporting government services.

There are other instances. Adultery, for example, isn’t simply about sex. It’s stealing from the intimate commitments of others. So, too, promiscuity steals away our powers and capacities to commit to and sustain stable, long-term relationships. Both rob from love’s treasury.

Another form of theft is using someone’s friendship in order to gain an advantage, in order to gain acceptance into the “in” crowd or to “get ahead,” and then discarding your friend when you’ve got what you want.

Cheating on an exam by copying what another schoolmate has written is thievery. Stealing the intellectual property of others, along with identity theft, has created a new specialty in the practice of law.

Neglecting a child is stealing the love and security that a child has a right to expect from a parent or guardian. It robs that child’s soul of the ability to trust and have faith in others. Furthermore, it robs that child of feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.

Then, there is child abuse. The effect of abusing children is to rob them of their innocence. And the abuse of a child by a religious figure steals away that child’s faith and trust, not only in others but in the Church and even in God. It steals their souls.

While teaching about the faith and trust of little children, Jesus says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matt 18:6)

I can’t tell you how sad I become when I hear little children confessing sins tell me they didn’t go to Mass on Sundays because “Mommy and Daddy” don’t go. I can’t help but think they’re being robbed – that their faith is being stolen from them.

There’s a lot more stealing going on than we’re willing to see. Most of the time we mask our stealing, living in the lie of denial. But God sees our thefts. Maybe we need to take off our dark glasses, glasses that shield us from the Light, and see things in the light of God’s eyes.