At the heart of the Old Law, revealed to Israel in the Old Testament, is the Ten Commandments. These commandments “express man’s fundamental obligations towards man and neighbor, which are always and everywhere valid“ (YouCat 351). They are found in scripture twice, in Exodus 20:2-17 & Deuteronomy 5:6-21, and we normally teach them as follows (YouCat 349):
1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S Day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Building upon natural law which God has placed in every human heart, God uses these commandments to tutor humanity in what things are contrary to the great commandment, to love God and to love neighbor (Luke 10:27). You could say that these lay out the terms of the Covenant between God and humanity, established by his revelation of the law to Moses:
“What is remarkable about the Ten Commandments is that all of human life is included with them. Indeed, we men are related at the same time to God (Commandments 1-3) and to our fellow men (Commandments 4-10); we are religious and social beings.” -YouCat 350
The next few posts in this series will break down what these commandments ask of us – but in this introduction, the YouCat points out something critical. To choose to follow Christ, to try and live by these commandments is to put oneself in the hands of God, and to allow Him to shape us:
“Christianity is more than a correct life and keeping the commandments. Being a Christian is a living relationship to Jesus. A Christian unites himself deeply and personally with the Lord and with him sets out on the way that leads to true life.” -YouCat 348
This is ultimately the message I am constantly trying to share with young people: God wants good things for us. Choosing to follow Him, to draw near to Him, and to try and shape your life by His Commandments is about letting Him make us what He has always intended us to be. And this is good. One might even say very good. (God did- check out Genesis 1:31). The desire to lead this correct life grows from the fact that the one we know, we love, and we trust is showing us what we were made for. When God speaks through Jeremiah of the plans He has to give us a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11) or when Jesus tells us that He has come to give us life (John 10:10), all of this points to the fact that God’s laws are not about repressing or missing out on anything: they are about giving us something more. So when next week, we begin to break down the implications of these commandments, what we’ll come to see is the way in which God points us away from that which would harm us and towards that which would give us a good life, a life full of hope.
“Most people do not suspect what God could make out of them if they would only place themselves at His disposal.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola