Day 38: The Ten commandments

Exodus Chapters 19 to 22 These four consecutive chapters of God’s Revelation to Moses are known as the MOSAIC LAW. This is the covenant that governed the Israelites and prepared the way for the promised Messiah. The Law that was at the heart of the covenant that God made with the Chosen People; this covenant was fulfilled by Christ’s new Law of GRACE AND LOVE. (CCC 708, 2059-2060)

Exodus 19:3-8 The assembly of people at the foot of Mt. Sinai is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of the foundation of the Catholic Church, which gathers all of God’s people, regardless of RACE OR NATIONALITY, into the Mystical Body of Christ. (CCC 751, 762)

Ch 19:5-6 A kingdom of priests, a holy nation: The Israelites, who were the assembly of the Chosen People as a priestly people, were to offer prayer and sacrifice, and, as direct recipients of God’s Word, they were called to keep the covenant, i.e., to obey the Law that God would give them through Moses. Throughout their history, God drew the Israelites continually back to fidelity to the covenant by means of humbling military defeats and captivity by gentile nations. The Liturgy of Good Friday recognizes this special status of the Jews in the Solemn Intercessions. (CCC 63, 709, 1539, 2810)

Ch 19:16-25 God’s presence on the mountain was manifested by thunder, lightning, clouds, and a trumpet blast (I’d rather imagine it being the Gsus Power Chord on a guitar…..get it? 😉). By such theophanies God showed his power and glory to the Israelites. (CCC 2085)

Ch 20:1-26 The Ten Commandments, or the DECALOGUE (from the Greek for “ten words”), were written with “the finger of God” (Ex 31:18). The Decalogue is the first stage of revealed law in the Old Testament and serves as the summary of moral law. Its precepts provide the fundamental moral principles that correspond to the requirements of human dignity as a child of God. As Christ taught, ALL the Commandments and the ENTIRE MORAL LAW are based upon the Great Commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37,39) The decalogue explains the proper attitude and behavior for those who love God and neighbor and reveals the gravity of the obligation to abide by the Law. While it expressed natural law already accessible by human reason, the effects of Original Sin had so limited the mind and weakened the will that the Revelation of the Decalogue was required to ensure clarity and certainty. The first three Commandments relate our obligations to God; the next seven establish our moral conduct toward our neighbor. (CCC 1954-1964, 1980, 2052-2082)

Ch 20:2-6 The First Commandment begins by reminding the Israelites that God loves his people and delivered them from slavery. It acknowledges the attributes of the one true God, who is All-powerful, All-loving, and ALWAYS FAITHFUL despite our transgressions. (CCC 2083-2086)

Ch 20:4-5 The First Commandment calls us to acknowledge God as our Creator and ultimate good through acts of adoration, thanksgiving, contrition, and petition. This absolute recognition of God’s infinite perfection forbids the practice of SUPERSTITION, IDOLATRY, DIVINATION, COMMUNICATION WITH THE DEAD (SEANCES AND OUIJA BOARDS), SACRILEGE, SIMONY, ATHEISM, AND AGNOSTICISM. (CCC 2110-2132)

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT mandates the exercise of the theological virtues of FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY (LOVE) which should influence EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIVES. Faith guides a life marked by accepting the teachings of the Church and putting them into practice; Sins against faith include WILLFUL DOUBT, INCREDULITY, HERESY, and SCHISM. Hope consists of trusting in God’s loving providence to lead us to salvation and holiness; sins against hope include DESPAIR and PRESUMPTION. Charity consists of loving others as Christ loves; sins against charity include INDIFFERENCE TOWARD GOD, INGRATITUDE, LUKEWARMNESS, ACEDIA (SPIRITUAL SLOTH), HATRED OF GOD, and COLDNESS TOWARDS NEIGHBORS. (CCC 2084, 2086-2094)

THE PROSCRIPTION OF IDOLATRY extends far beyond pagan idol worship to include ANY FORM OF GREED, LUST, ATTACHMENT, or other distraction that views these partial goods as if they were the fullness of goodness. The veneration of images of Christ, Mary, angels, and the saints IS NOT AN OFFENSE AGAINST THE FIRST COMMANDMENT since this practice is directed toward the one REPRESENTED BY THE IMAGE rather than TO THE IMAGE ITSELF; such devotion is justified by the mystery of the Incarnation, whereby God the Son became visible and tangible by assuming a human nature. (CCC 2129-2132)

Ch 20:7 The Second Commandment calls us to respect the name of God in our speech. This veneration of God’s name extends to the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints, and the Church; this Commandment also requires respect of any sacred object. Since an oath involves the invocation of God’s name, truthfulness under oath is a serious obligation. Sins against the Second Commandment include BLASPHEMY AND PERJURY. (CCC 2142-2155, 2156-2167)

Ch 20:8-11 The Third Commandment enjoins us to observe a weekly day of worship and rest in commemoration of God’s rest after his work of creation. The early Christians fulfilled this Commandment by observing Sunday as the Lord’s Day and setting it aside for Eucharistic worship and rest. This commandment obliges the faithful to attend Mass each Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation unless prevented from doing so for a grave reason. The Sunday rest involves refraining from unnecessary work and other activities that detract from the worship of God; the faithful are also encouraged to use this day for works of charity and the study of the Faith. One of the practical advantages of this day of rest is the chance to recover both physical and mental energy and to spend time with family. (CCC 2168-2196)

Ch 20:12 The Fourth Commandment requires that we honor our parents as well as those who exercise legitimate authority over us. Children are to respect, assist, obey, and be grateful for their parents and thereby build harmony within the family. Parents are obliged to educate their children in the faith, in prayer, and in virtue and to provide for their physical and spiritual needs. Because their children must follow their call from Christ, parents should encourage and respect their children’s vocations. (CCC 2197-2257)

Ch 20:13 Intimately linked to the transcendental value of the human person is the right to life. From that context, the Fifth Commandment FORBIDS the taking of innocent human life from conception until natural death. Egregious violations of the Fifth Commandment include HOMICIDE, ABORTION, EUTHANASIA, and SUICIDE; additionally, medical experimentation that involves the manipulation, harvesting, and destruction of human embryos is gravely evil. The FIfth Commandment extends to respect for the moral life of others (avoiding scandal) and for our health, and forbids any actions that could cause bodily injury, including non therapeutic bodily mutilation and sterilization. HATRED AND A DESIRE FOR VENGEANCE are sins against charity that are proscribed by this commandment. Finally, we must respect the mortal remains of the dead by providing for proper burial or interment. (CCC 2258-2330)

Ch 20:14 The Sixth Commandment prohibits all sexual acts outside the marital covenant, and thus covers a wide range of sexual sins, including masturbation, fornication, prostitution, rape, homosexual acts, lust, and the use of pornography. (CCC 2331-2400)

Ch 20:15 The Seventh Commandment applies to all acts in which a person takes something he or she does not have a right to possess. This includes damaging property intentionally, producing goods or services poorly, breaking contracts, evading taxes, forgery, spending wastefully or excessively, and cheating. Commutative justice, which governs the rights of individuals and institutions, demands that reparation for theft be made whenever possible. (CCC 2401-2463)

Ch 20:16 The Eighth Commandment calls for us to be truthful both in word and in deed. Telling the truth consists of communicating what is seen and understood to correspond to reality. Some violations of truthful expressions include false witness, perjury, slander, libel, rash judgement, detraction, calumny, flattery, adulation, complaisance, boasting, and outright lies. The ultimate truth is Christ, and we live by the truth to the degree that we reflect the life of Christ in our personal lives. (CCC 2464-2513)

Ch 20:17 The Ninth and Tenth Commandments admonish us not to be covetous of another person’s spouse or property. LIke the Sixth Commandment, the Ninth Commandment calls us to chastity in THOUGHT AND DESIRE. This Commandment involves self-control and self-mastery over our internal inclinations towards inordinate pleasures of the flesh; it also seeks to help us control tendencies toward greed and to help us set our hearts on Christ and his teachings. (CCC 2514-2557)

Leviticus 13:1-59 Leprosy, also called HANSEN’S DISEASE, is an infectious disease that, left untreated, disfigures, maims, and ultimately kills its host. As there was no cure for leprosy at the time, many of the laws in Leviticus served as measures to help prevent the spread of the disease. In practice, the Law led to a distancing of lepers from the community, as they were labeled “unclean” and lived as outcasts apart from their families and community. Christ reversed this sad state of affairs by showing them COMPASSION AND HEALING THEM. (CCC 1503-1506)

Psalm 74 Written not long after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BC, this lament tries to understand how this tragedy occurred. The sense of abandonment by God loomed large, and there is a note of anger in this hymn as the psalmist challenged God to reassert himself in favor of Israel against its enemies. 

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins) 

Prayer by Fr Mike: "Father in Heaven, we thank you. We give you praise for your Word. We thank you so much for revealing yourself to us, revealing your heart to us, and revealing your commandments to us here in the Book of Exodus and in the Book of Leviticus. Lord God, we know that you have called us by name, that you know us, and that you love us. We in response say that we also desire to know you. We also desire to love you more and more fully every single day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen."


Israel and the Church- A holy nation and a royal priesthood. St. Peter pulls from this passage in his first Epistle to show thatThe Church is the New Israel- God's chosen people in his New Covenant. We all are baptized as priests like all the Israelites, who also had a heirarchical structure to their priesthood, from the priesthood of the laity (us), the Levitical priesthood (Pastors and priests), the Episcopal Priesthood (Bishops), and the High priest (Jesus Christ).

God's presence at Mount Sinai calls to mind details of fire at Pentecost, and lighting, peals of thunder, trumpets, earthquakes and smoke in the Heavenly Temple in Revelation. All signs of God's presence and might.

Throughout the Bible, the Commandments God gave Moses are listed as the "Ten Commandements."  But the Commandements are never numbered within Scripture, and I count 14 "Shall/shall not/ imperative statements of commandements.  Even the Commandements have variations in the order of which they are listed between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.  As a result, there are serveral different ways that the Commandements are grouped to make ten.  One such variation lists the forbidding of graven images as the Second Commandment, which is then used as an objection to the Catholic Church having statues.  

But not only did God instructed the building of depictions of Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, the Bronze Serpent, and Solomon including depictions in the architecture of the sacred Temple, The book of Judges even defines what a graven image means in chapters 17 and 18, when Micah's mother made a graven image and a molten image, and Micah calls them "my gods which I made."  When Scripture refers to graven images, it is referring not to mere statues, but to false god, which goes against the First Commandment.

For this reason, The Catholic Church includes the making of graven images in the first commandment, because separating Graven Images from the first commandment would be rather repetitive.

The entire First Commandment broken down consists of three parts: 1) Who God is and prohibiting having other gods. 2) What the prohibition consits of. 3)  Why it is prohibited.  The Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath also contains this three-fold structure.

Leprosy serves as a physical prefigurement of Mortal Sin, and the authority to examine and declare clean and unclean belonged the priests, as does the authority to forgive and retain sins fall with the priests in Christ's ministerial priesthood.