Readings: Exodus 20: 1-17; I. Cor. 1: 22-25; John 2: 13-25.
Who likes rules and regulations? I know of no one who relishes being told what to do; it used to be inherent in our character as Americans to resist any attempt to restrain our freedoms. So how do we relate to the first reading from Exodus, which catalogs Yahweh’s gift of commandments to the Hebrew people?
While it seems boring to read of Ten Commandments, which we have probably heard since we were children, it is important to understand the context. These are not the whimsical dictates of a remote tyrant but part of Yahweh’s pledge of a covenant with the Hebrew people. The contract was simple Yahweh will be the God for the Hebrews and they will keep fidelity to Yahweh alone. Part of this Covenant was not only Yahweh protecting His people and showing Himself to them but also molding the Hebrew people to be a ‘light to the nations’. In order to do this Yahweh wanted His people to live a life of justice, peace, and honor, which contrasted with other nations’ behavior, to show how to live a fully human life in proper relationship to God and others. Thus, the Ten Commandments are not random orders but a framework of how God’s people should act to be not only loyal to Yahweh but also be more fully human. Rules linked not to abstractions but to how live in relationship with God and others.
Finally, it is important for us to see that the Ten Commandments are not just suggestions nor do they summarize the Christian life. The Ten Commandments are a starting point and framework for us but what is central is a living relationship with Jesus Christ and how He is acting in our life every day.
So today perhaps we can ask about how we understand God? Do we see God as a Strict Lawgiver, keeping a ledger of our sins or a loving, forgiving Father who offers us laws to guide us with the goal of allowing us to live a fully human life? We must never forget that while God gives us commandments God is always forgiving of our sins and transgressions.
Please remember to support Mission Doctors who bring the Love of Christ through healing God’s poor throughout the world. Have a great Third Sunday of Lent- God bless you. 😊
Brother John Kiesler, OFM