“Neither the Ten Commandments nor the great commandment is revelatory if separated from the divine covenant with Israel or from the presence of the Kingdom of God in the Christ. These commandments were meant and should be taken as interpretations of a new reality, not as orders directed against the old reality.” ~ Paul Tillich
Paul Tillich was required required reading when I was in the seminary. His theological writings were quite profound and delved deeply into the mystery of God. He gave reason to reflect in a very serious way about what God was telling His people in the past as well as in the present age.
Today’s first reading, from the Book of Exodus, enumerates the Ten Commandments as given by God through Moses. Those Ten Commandments were provided to the people in order to give them the direction that they needed in order to be a better people. They provided the people with the focus on God and community that was needed in order for the people to survive.
The Ten Commandments, through the years, have been assailed in many ways. Most people treat the Ten Commandments more like Ten Suggestions and do not take them very seriously. However, the commandments were given to the people so that they would better live their faith and strengthen their relationship with their Creator.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He told His followers that He had not come to do away with any of the commandments; but, rather, to fulfill them. He reminded us that the very foundation of the commandments was love. If we live as a people of love — loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves — we would, truly, be fulfilling the desire of God for His people.
The very fact of the matter is that we cannot live without rules and laws. We cannot. We are mortal and corruptible. We can be too easily swayed, if left on our own and to our own devices, to leave the path that leads to the Kingdom and follow the path to perdition.
We need the commandments. And, even more, we actually need to embrace them and to follow them. God has made a covenant with us. He promised to be our God if we promise to be his people. Let us hold dear to the commandments and what they teach to us.
FAITH ACTION: Reflect upon the Ten Commandments and see what you need to do to change your life so that you are living according to them rather than allowing yourself to stray from them and, thus, from God.