49. Fifth Commandment: Thou shall not kill


   In Genesis, there is a sad and painful episode: the story of Cain and Abel. They offered sacrifices to God. Cain offered the worst, while Abel offered the best lambs of the flock. So the smoke from Abel went straight up to heaven and the smoke of Cain’s sacrifice cast down to earth. Cain who was envious of his brother invited him to go for a walk in the countryside and killed him with the jawbone of an ass.

    God reproached his crime and cursed Cain for having shed the blood of an innocent man. The pure blood cries out vengeance before God and Cain was full of remorse for the rest of his life.

    The Fifth Commandment not only orders "do not kill"; it also prohibits the fights, hits, envy, but above all, it commands the respect and care for human life, which is a God's gift.

 A. Choose one of the following words and answer: Abel, Cain, the best, the worse, forgave, killed, remorse or satisfaction.

 It is very sad and painful, the story of Cain and

 Cain offered to God
 Abel offered to God
 Cain was envious of Abel and
 the rest of his life, Cain was full of

  Main ideas

1. God, the only lord of life

   Human life is sacred. From the beginning, it is the result of the creative action of God and will always has a special relationship with the Creator who is the origin and end of our existence. God is the only Lord of life from the beginning to the end. The man is only an administrator, and should take care of his own live and that of his fellow men.

    The fifth commandment forbids what goes against life; but it not be understood in a negative sense, as it commands charity, harmony and peace with everyone, even those who appear as enemies. This positive aspect is the main content of the precept.

2. Duties of the fifth commandment with yourself

   a) Love and respect yourself: we should love ourselves, without selfishness, or arrogance (with a misperception of our own qualities because of ambition, presumption and vainglory).

    b) Put our talents to good use: God has given every man talents and natural and supernatural abilities. Regarding the natural, we have the intelligence and the will that we have to develop by acquiring knowledge and by training the will reaching our control and a personality capable of big enterprises.

    Regarding the supernatural, we have the sanctifying grace, along with the gifts that accompany it. We must respond generously because at the end of life we will give account for how we have used them.

    c) Love and respect of the body: the body is the instrument that God has given us. So we have to respect and care it (food, cleaning, sport), avoiding the excesses that may damage health. We must love it.

    Suicide is the opposite, the wish of our own death, the exposition to great dangers (reckless driving, risky excursions, etc.), the mutilation of a member, euthanasia (shorten the life to avoid pain), gluttony (eating or drinking in excess), drunkenness and drug use.

    d) The care of the spiritual life: it is important to care for the body, but it is most important to care for the soul so that the grace grows in us. We grow better when we know Christian doctrine (the catechism), when we confess and take communion frequently, when we make small sacrifices, etc.

    The life of grace in the soul is lost by mortal sin, which is like a suicide. However, by the mercy of God, there is the remedy of the sacrament of Penance, which allows recovering the supernatural life.

  B. Choose the correct answer in parentheses:

 Human life is sacred from the ( )

 Man must ( ) his own life and that of others.

 We have love and ( ) ourselves.

 We also need to ( ) the talents given by God.

 We have to ( ) intelligence, will and personality.

 We must have ( ) and respect for the body.

 The ( ) is to desire and cause the proper death.

 The ( ) is to shorten life to avoid pain.  

 The ( ) is eating or drinking in excess.  

 They are also against this ( ) the drunkenness and drug use.  

 It is most important to ( ) the life and health of the soul.  

 We can ( ) in God's grace with the Confession and the Communion.  

 We must avoid to ( ) the soul with sin  

3. Duties of the fifth commandment with others

   a) Respect the life of others: the same reason that compels respect the proper life requires respect for the lives of others: every man is a creature of God, from whom we receive life, and he is the only owner. This right to life is violated in homicide and abortion, which are horrendous crimes against God and man.

    God is always the author of our life, the life of animals and plants, and we cannot kill them unless they are useful and necessary to feed. In that case, we should not torture them or cause useless pain.

    b) Respect for coexistence: the fifth commandment forbids not only kill, but everything that goes against everybody else: hatred, envy, enmity, strife, quarrels, revenge, fights, wishing evil on someone, rejoice if we see others suffer or have a hard time, insult ...The Gospel proclaims blessed those who love peace, and a manifestation of that spirit will be pray that there is no war between men.

    The Christian has to forgive honestly the injuries that are made, "No, not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Matthew 18, 22); that is, forever. He also has to know how to ask forgiveness by offenses that he may do to others; it is no humiliation, but it is demonstrated by works that we have a big heart.

    c) The sin of scandal: by infringe upon the spiritual good of others, the scandal is a sin against the fifth commandment. Scandal is any word, deed or omission that incites others to sin: bad conversations, blaspheme, show photos or inappropriate books, use indecent clothes, do not go to Mass ... These examples cause sin in those who observe or suffer it, and therefore, Jesus said referring to the person who commit scandal: "it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18, 6). We must remove those who teach or push to sin; and, if we had committed that sin, we must apologize and make amends.

4. Help others in their needs

   To live the positive sense of the fifth commandment, we have to love neighbor, helping him, with the example and word, to solve his needs, both material and spiritual.

    The works of mercy remember what the main needs are, and when we assist them, we can prove the truth of our love to the neighbor.

Catechesis course. Mister Jaime Pujol Balcells and Mister Jesus Sancho Bielsa. EUNSA. Navarra. 1982. with the permission of the authors.

  C. Choose the correct answer in parentheses: 

 The fifth commandment orders to ( ) the life of others.

 Killing a neighbor is a ( )

 Killing an unborn child is a ( )

 We also have to ( ) the live of animals and plants.

 It also ( ) hatred, envy, fights, insults, etc.

 The Christian must ( ) injuries.

 He also has to  ( ) forgiveness by offenses that he may do to others.


  Catechisms Questions

1. What commands the fifth commandment?  The fifth commandment commands to not make an attempt on the proper life or on the other.

2. Who deadly sin against the fifth commandment?  The person who desire his proper death or that of his neighbor; the person who kills, injures or bangs; the person who is drunk, use drugs, eat things harmful to health, threat his life and curse to himself or another.

3. Why is it forbidden to kill?  It is forbidden to kill because human life, from conception until death, is sacred: the human person is made in the image and likeness of God.

4. What is the scandal?  The scandal is any word, deed or omission that incites others to sin.

  Choose the correct button. The possible answers are below:



 What commands the fifth commandment?

 Who deadly sin against the fifth commandment?

 Why is it forbidden to kill?

 What is the scandal?




 The person who desires his proper death or that of his neighbor. The person who kills, injures or bangs; who is drunk, use drugs, eat things harmful to health, threat his life and curse to himself or another.


 Every word, deed or omission that incites others to sin.


 Because human life, from conception until death, is sacred: the human person is made in the image and likeness of God.


 Injure the proper life or that of the neighbor.

  Purposes of Christian life

• Read the "Works of mercy" seeing which ones are fulfilled (they are in the "Profession of Faith" section).

• Be a friend of everybody and treat them with respect, without exception. No grudge or hurt anyone, avoiding insult, nickname or abuse.

• Forgive those who have offended us, as we pray in the Our Father

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