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Father Muench Says...

God’s gift to us: the Ten Commandments

March 18, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

One of the more important purposes of Lent is to be a time of final preparation of the catechumens, who will be entering the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.  So, during Lent, as part of the RCIA rituals, the catechumens are given certain gifts. I have mentioned before to you the gift of the Lord’s Prayer.

This week, the gift given to the catechumens is the Ten Commandments.

The Church remembers the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to Moses as recorded in the Book of Exodus.  The Hebrew people have escaped Egypt and are on their way through the desert. At Mount Sinai, they stay for several days while Moses goes up the mountain to meet God.

We all memorized the Ten Commandments as children.  However, I must admit that there were words I didn’t recognize, back then.  As a rule, the living of the commandments was a very negative thing – don’t do this, don’t do that. 

But what were we supposed to do?

Jesus tells us in the Gospels that he has come to fulfill the Law.  In the Gospels, Jesus teaches us that there is a positive way to keep the commandments; the commandments give us all a plan of life – more than what not to do but also what to do.

Briefly, let us consider some of the commandments:
“Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.”  However, we are also called to use the many opportunities we have to show honor and respect for God’s name.  Jesus tells us to call God, Father for God loves us like a father. So we should honor the name of our God in prayer and in teaching.

“Do not profane the Sabbath.”  However, we are called to make the Sabbath a day to remember.  On each Sunday, we are to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord.  As we pray each Sunday may our prayers bring peace and love of the Lord into our hearts.

“Do not dishonor your father and mother.”  However, this commandment calls us to demonstrate our love and pay honor to our parents.  Jesus lived in a family. Jesus blessed family life.  We are confident that Jesus brought joy and love to his family.  In this year, as our Church prepares for the Bishop’s Synod on the Family, may we all renew our love and honor for our parents.

“Do not kill.”  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes it very clear that this command asks much more of us. We are to remove anger and hate from our lives.  In addition, all are urged to preserve and defend life.  In the Spirit of Our Lord, Jesus, we are called to be compassionate and forgiving.  Jesus even calls us to love our enemies.

“Do not be unfaithful to your spouse.”  However, even more, Jesus asks married couples, “when was the last time you told your wife/husband that you loved her/him?”  Here again there is a call to make marriage sacred – even more meaningful.   A marriage remains strong only when a couple renews their marriage vows each and every day of their lives, to remarry each other over and over again.

“Don’t steal.”  However, Jesus also urges us to use well the things of this earth well. Our possessions can take over our lives but Jesus calls upon us to share with the poor and to help those in need.

“Don’t bear false witness against anyone.”  However, have you ever defended the good name of anyone?  May your words buildup, support and comfort your neighbor.?

Someone recently asked me if we, Catholics, still believe in the Ten Commandments.  Of course, we do but we must understand more than what the commandment tell what not to do. There is much the commandments tell us to do.

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