Keep my commandments
Reading I : Exodus 20:1-17
- In every covenant, there are laws, duties, and responsibilities that must be followed.
- The Ten Commandments express the central law of the covenant made on Mt. Sinai.
- They outline the characteristic relationships with God and with neighbor.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
Feasting on the Word
The commandments as gift
The Commandments come as gift from God to the people of Israel to structure their common life, and to shape individual lives that are worthy of the God who has rescued them and with whom they are in covenant. They should not be read as divine finger-wagging or moral hand-slapping. To be bound in covenant with God is to be set free to live as God’s people. God’s gift of the law to Israel is a means of protecting the community, now that they are no longer slaves, and opening a path to the flourishing of life, both communal and individual.
SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
They point us to the Savior
The Ten Words point us to the Savior. Christ was “born under the law, to redeem those under the law” (Gal 4:4-5). He fulfilled the law in every respect (Matt 5:17-18). He paid the penalty of the law and bore the curse of the law on the cross (Gal 3:10-14; Col 2:13-14). We cannot keep God’s law perfectly. We need another to do this for us. The law drives us to Jesus for forgiveness and a new heart, and the Spirit then empowers for obedience. While in this life we cannot keep the law perfectly and are always in need of grace, we are never crushed by the law because there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Because the weight has been lifted, we are able to delight in God’s law. We do not see His commandments as burdensome (1 John 5:3).
SOURCE: Content taken from CHRIST-CENTERED EXPOSITION COMMENTARY (32 Volumes); David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida (Editors); Copyright © 2013-16. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.
God's Justice Bible
The foundation of any legal system that promotes justice is a constitution that clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of the people and their government and that anchors the entire legal system. God gives the newly freed Hebrews a basic law (called “the Ten Commandments”) to govern their relationship with him, with each other and with the environment.
SOURCE: Content taken from GOD'S JUSTICE BIBLE: The flourishing of Creation & the Destruction of Evil notes by Tim Stafford; Copyright © 2016. Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible
Pattern of the Commandments
Exodus 20:1-11 The first four of the Ten Commandments provided the Israelites with a few foundational principles to govern their relationship with God. They were not to worship any other gods (20:3), make idols of any kind (20:4-6), or misuse God’s name (20:7). They were to remember to observe God’s Sabbath day of rest (20:8-11). Each of these principles represents boundaries that God had set to define his relationship with his people. Jesus later summed up this vertical relationship as the greatest commandment: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Loving God includes living out a consistent faith and commitment to him. Exodus 20:12-17 The final six of the Ten Commandments deal with principles that define boundaries for healthy human relationships. Only the command to honor our parents (20:12; see also Ephesians 6:1-3) is stated positively. The other five are negative: Do not murder (20:13), commit adultery (20:14), steal (20:15), testify falsely against your neighbor (20:16), or covet anything belonging to your neighbor (20:17). Jesus summed up these human relational boundaries like this: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). This great commandment assumes that we have cultivated a healthy self-respect and follow it up with loving actions that respect the boundaries of others.
SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible
Many things can become gods
Today we can allow many things to become gods to us. Money, fame, work, or pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security. No one sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But by the amount of time we devote to them, they can grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies. Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps these things from turning into gods.
SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
CATHOLIC Bible Study
The Ten Commandments
by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)
In the First Reading, the Ten Commandments were the foundation of the Law of the Sinai Covenant. They focused on love expressed with a two-part division concerning love for God followed by a series of laws dealing with expressing love for humanity. The articles of the Law were God’s gift of love and protection for His covenant people. The Law, conceived in love, served as a tutor and a guide, teaching the children of Israel about sin and sacrifice and setting them apart as a holy people on the path to salvation.
The Ten Words
The popular English title for this series of laws is the “Ten Commandments.” In fact, the word “commandment” (mitzvah, plural = mitsvot) is not in this passage. The title “Ten Commandments” is the English translation of the Hebrew phrase ‘aseret ha-devarium (see Ex 34:28, Dt 4:13 and 10:4), which means “The Ten Words. ” It is what the Septuagint version of the Old Testament translated into Greek as deka logoi = Decalogue (also see Hos 4:2; Jer 7:9; Ez 18:5-9; JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 107).
Preamble / Historical Prologue
Don’t miss the significance of the opening line:
1 In those days, God delivered all these commandments: 2 “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
It is both the preamble identifying God the great King and the historical prologue summarizing the great King’s relationship to His vassal people and His deeds on their behalf. Deuteronomy 5:6 repeats this statement of identity and historical summary. In this historical review, Yahweh bases His claim to the people’s allegiance on His role as Israel’s liberator from Egyptian slavery.
The numbering of the commandments
The Decalogue/Ten Commandments sum up and proclaim God the Divine King’s Law, which He commands His vassal people to follow. They are an amalgamation of religious, civil (secular), and social justice obligations. The numbering of the commandments is different according to various traditions. However, the laws divide into two categories: those laws concerning humankind’s relationship with God and those laws concerning relationships with others. Roman Catholics have traditionally followed the division and numbering established by St. Augustine in which the first three laws (verses 3-11) pertain to one’s relationship with God and the last seven with one’s relationship with humanity (verses 12-17; see the traditional list in the Catechism between #2051 and 52).
Old Covenant: A path to life
Taken as a whole, the entire body of the Ten Commandments illustrates that one’s social behavior cannot be separated from religious conscience and obligations to God since one is deeply rooted in the other. Living the whole Law of the “ten words” was for the Old Covenant people of God a path to life:
Keep them and put them into practice: such is Yahweh’s command to you. Stray neither to right nor to left. Follow the whole way that Yahweh has marked for you, and you will survive to prosper and live long in the country which you are going to possess (Dt 5:32-33 NAB).
New Covenant: Obligatory for Christians
However, in the New Covenant, Jesus Christ reveals the full meaning of the “ten words” (CCC 2056). ,
The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians. The Second Vatican Council confirms this teaching: The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord … the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel in every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments (Lumen Gentium 24). Also, see the list of the same Ten Commandments repeated in Deuteronomy 5:1-22.
SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. titles added.
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath
Points to consider
- I hear the ten commandments, the way to life that all of us have heard and followed from our youth. But what else do I hear today, and what else should my listeners hear?
- It is the voice of God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Yes, the sacred covenant between God and Israel lives, because I am. And this covenant is central to our own existence as the followers of Jesus. This is how we behave as God’s people: honoring, refraining, keeping the faith.
- Whenever I imagine God I also imagine the Sabbath rest where God is, where the creation is complete and at the same time evolving toward its completion. So for me God’s voice can only encourage those who listen to it, to continue in their path of justice. As in a time-out call during an emotional basketball game, we need reminders of our basic plan of attack. Whether that voice sounds sometimes strident, or sometimes gentle, it is always on topic.
- Each time I read a ‘first reading’ I refer also to the fulfillment of the covenant in Christ. Many Gospel passages are addressed to fulfilling the commandments. The link is not so obvious today, except in the sense that everything the Jewish people held dear is being fulfilled in the words and prophetic actions of Jesus.
- Today more than ever we are tempted on all sides to carve idols for ourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above (missile defense systems?) or on the earth below (nation states?) or in the waters beneath the earth (control over oil and other energy resources?). So many around us bow down before them or worship them. I can speak directly to the assembly on this.
- Climax: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. As long as we remember, keeping the day in this recollected way, we will always keep the other words of the Decalogue within hearing range.
- Message for our assembly: All of our actions have implications, not just for some unsuspecting corner of the earth (as chaos theory holds) but for those closest to us. I inflict punishment on the children of those who hate me, but bestow mercy on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
- I will challenge myself: To speak the words plainly and directly, to allow the congregation to ponder them once more.
God’s covenant with his people
Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):
The writer of this passage wanted his readers to put themselves in the place of the original Hebrew slaves, just liberated from Egypt’s pharaoh. The writer hoped they would imagine themselves hearing this covenant announced for the first time ever.
Our Liturgical Setting
Today’s gospel (and it’s always good to start your lector preparation by reading the day’s gospel), John 2:13-25, is the dramatic account of Jesus’ cleansing the Temple of its merchants and money-changers, followed by a prediction of his death and resurrection. Perhaps it’s Jesus’ “back to the basics” gesture that prompts the selection of this first reading.
The Theological Background
Just in case anyone still thinks of these “commandments” as a mere list of do’s and don’t’s, let’s remember the larger theological context. This is not a list, it’s a covenant between God and a people. It’s not a poster to hang in an Alabama courtroom*, it’s the constitution of the people of God. Its importance is made clear by the historical context in which it arrives:
The Historical Situation
The commandments don’t come out of the blue. God delivers them to a group of recently liberated slaves, refugees almost marooned in a desert, a people filled with grave doubts about their future and about this God’s reliability. That’s the larger context (see Exodus, chapters 12-19). The more immediate context is an unprecedented spectacle, the appearance of God veiled in smoke, with trumpet blasts and earthquakes. Other details that you can read in Exodus 19 add to the solemnity of the occasion.
And yet despite the grandeur of the delivery, and the absolute character of the commandments, and the total inequality of the parties to the proposed covenant, it’s still a proposed covenant. The people are free to say no to God’s offer. The consequences of rejection wouldn’t be pretty, but it could be done. But the consequences of accepting the covenant can be truly beautiful, for a people committed to living this way would be genuinely free, secure, mutually respectful and trustworthy. The covenant offered these people a society excellent among neighboring societies, and more humane than anything the earth had yet seen.
Proclaiming the Passage
To prepare to proclaim this, imagine you are Moses about to proclaim this covenant for the first time. Nobody in your audience has heard any of this before. You want them to come away from your speech saying “Wow, this changes everything.” You know that much of what you demand will meet resistance, yet you want the people to ratify it unanimously.
Having, as we do here, the “amplified” version of the Ten Commandments will help keep this from sounding like ten indistinguishable sentences. When God is giving the “reasons” for a commandment, treat it as a distinct narrative; pause before and after, and proclaim it as if you were a lawyer summing up your case before a jury.
Use the Long Form: This time, don’t ask the presider before mass whether you should use the short form or the long. Do whatever he tells you, but don’t make it easy for him to deprive the congregation of the richer version. As Saint Augustine is often said to have said, it is easier to get forgiveness than to get permission.
Jesus and Isaac: Two Beloved Sons
Jesus is depicted as the fulfillment of many Old Testament types, such as Adam, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Joseph, and so on. In this week’s video see some of the types Jesus is fulfilling in the readings for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, in particular Jesus being a New Isaac.Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more.
BISHOP ROBERT BARRON
The Ten Commandments
Although most of our parents’s generation knew the Ten Commandments by heart, few Christians today can recite them. Yet a deep exploration of these commandments reveals a path to a flourishing moral life.
THE CATHOLICTV NETWORK
The 10 Commandments from Father Joe
Blink is a half hour show consisting of multiple small informative video spots like In The Know With Father Joe. Watch CatholicTV to see more of our short video spots called Blinks.
Did the Catholic Church change the 10 Commandments
Some Protestants claim that the Catholic Church changed the second commandment in order to justify its idolatrous practice of having graven images in its places of worship. But is this true? In this video, Karlo gives reasons why the Church didn’t change the second commandment and why its practice of having statues is not an idolatrous practice.