The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

God Gave Us These Commandments for a Reason

What do we do when we are faced with a difficult decision; a crossroads; a tragedy; or an opportunity?  We often time pride ourselves on our ability to reason out a suitable solution, or occasionally leave the resolution up to chance, but when we really need guidance, where do we find it?  When in doubt, go to the same place that Jesus went when the people pressed him to answer a question: Holy Scripture. 

A scribe came to Jesus and, seeing that he was answering his detractors with skill and wisdom, the scribe asked Jesus to tell him, “which commandment is the first of all?”

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all our soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mk 13: 29-31

Jesus quotes the Shema, the fundamental creedal statement of the Hebrew people (Dt 6: 4), to the scribe.  Then he goes further by quoting a portion of this verse from Leviticus: “You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  (Lev 19:18)  We are called to abide by two overarching commandments one of which refers to our relationship with God and the other with our relationship with each other: the Ten Commandments.

Jesus reminds us that we are to “have no other gods” other than the One, True God; we are to make no graven images and worship them as if they were God; we are not to use God’s name as a curse or to treat it as a common or ordinary; and we are to worship God and give thanks to him who created us by focusing our attention on God rather than on the things of this world.

Jesus further tells us that we are to show respect and love by honoring our parents; we are not supposed to murder our neighbors; we are to avoid adultery which divides families and sunders relationships; we are not to steal from our neighbor; we are not to lie to or about our neighbor; we are not to covet that which belongs to our neighbor.

When we need direction or instruction about how to lead our lives or which path we should take or what decision is the right one to make, the answers, more often than not, can be found right where God left them for us to find.  It may take some effort, and our desires might not at first align with God’s Will, but Jesus never promised that the road would always be easily or pleasantly travelled.  He does, however, promise to be present with us as we make our journey.

Fr. Michael+

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