Scripture: Lectionary 399. Exodus 20:1-17. Psalm 19:184.108.40.206. Matthew 13:18-23:
In the Hebrew text and in the synagogue the Ten Commandments are called the Ten Words (of God to Moses). We have two biblical passages that enumerate them and many references to the precepts of God both in the Psalms and in the Gospels. The commandments were given on Mount Sinai to Moses for the Israelites. Similarly in the New Testament we have Jesus giving us the Beatitudes as a guide that complements and may be his interpretation of what the commandments lead us to do. Both the Mosaic version of the commandments and Jesus’ sermon are to be seen as a solid guide and foundation for our lives. None of them will hurt us if we cherish and observe them. We will grow in holiness and wholeness as human beings. They are more powerful than any national constitution. The Commandments and Beatitudes come from a God of peace, justice, and love. There is nothing political about them; they are all spiritual principles that put us on the right track no matter who we are and what our religious persuasions may be. Living them out daily will make us God’s people and brothers and sisters in God’s family. They do not inhibit us; rather they mature us into very decent human beings. Virtues are built upon these foundational spiritual blueprints. Prayer will become a joy not a perfunctory task.
The two psalms that support the Giving of the Torah (Law) are Psalm 19, our responsorial psalm and Psalm 119 which is the longest in the Bible. It is a perfect way of living out the commandments in everyday life and it covers that life by using several key words that are then set in the alphabetical stanzas that run from Aleph (A) to Tau (the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Both of these psalms help us to grasp the inner meaning of the commandments of God given to Moses. One is more the transcendent appreciation of them with praise (Psalm 19 A), the other is the practical living out of the Ten Words of God (Psalm 119).
Jesus praises all who come to him and present questions about the commandments. They learn how to simplify them by love of God, neighbor, and self—a very healthy trio for the spiritual journey of our lives. Love is the meaning of the covenants God has given to us in the history of salvation and John in his letters goes to the heart of the universe when he tells us “God is love.” Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.