Windows of Salvation – The Ten Commandments
A priest friend of mine used to tell a funny story about hearing children’s confessions. As he was sitting in the confessional, he heard a voice from behind the screen: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I have broken the 6thCommandment.” “Oh,” the priest said. “Can you tell me a little more about that?” “I’ve committed adultery,” said the voice of the child. “Ok, tell me what you think that is.” “You know, Father! When you disobey adults!”
Today’s stained-glass window is the image of the Ten Commandments, given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. God had revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, as we heard about last week, but now he was teaching Moses and the people how to live. Here’s the complete list as it is typically numerated, in case you forgot:
- I am the Lord your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
- Keep holy the Sabbath Day.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
We know that in general, law takes on many forms: Natural Law (that which is written on our souls as human beings and known by reason), Eternal Law (those eternal truths that govern all things in the universe), Divine Law (those laws that God has revealed to us), Civil Law (manmade laws like traffic laws), and even Ecclesiastical Law (the laws of the Church, like Canon Law). The Ten Commandments seems to be a bit of a mix of Divine Law and Natural Law, because while God reveals the first three laws to us, the rest are already sort of written into the fabric of our being.
The Ten Commandments are a cornerstone of Judeo-Christian morality, but it’s also tempting for us to see them and the ministry of Jesus as two separate things. What did Jesus think about the Commandments? He clearly knew and lived the Commandments, but he also fulfilled them! The Law was an important step, but simply put, just obeying the law wasn’t going to be enough. Jesus came not just to teach us about the law, to help us understand God’s intention in the Law, but even to do what it could not – to give salvation through his death and resurrection.
The Ten Commandments are some of the most important early things we learn as children, but it’s good that we don’t forget them or simply gloss over them (“Welp, I haven’t killed anyone today, so I’m good!”). I highly recommend taking a look at a good examination of conscience before you go to Confession, but even at the end of every day! The more we can follow the Law of Love based in the Commandments and fulfilled in Christ, the more draw others to Christ!
Lord, teach us the ways of your statutes and commandments, and we shall keep them to the end!