Meditating on a Few of the Commandments…

You shall not have other gods besides me.

If Sunday (or Saturday evening) finds us in church, then, thank God, the Lord will not catch us off worshiping the almighty god of I-get-to-do-whatever-I-want-with-my-weekend.

But: Am I ever guilty of worshiping the god of I-get-to-do-whatever-I-want-with-my-[fill in the blank]?

You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.

Do I take the name of Christ in vain by calling myself a Christian and not behaving like one?

Does “you shall not kill” give me peace? Seems like the commandment aims at peace.

God wills the peace and harmony that comes from honest, humble, generous hearts. Selfishness kills peace. Grasping fear kills peace. Faithlessness, or too much drinking, or driving too fast, or distracted—they all kill peace. Impatience kills peace. Rash judgments, tale-bearing, backbiting, and gossip kill peace.

Maybe I am not as innocent of breaking this commandment as I thought I was.

The sixth commandment obviously pertains only to adults. Do we adults commit adultery—just be being adults? Well… “If you look in the wrong way, you have committed adultery in your heart,” saith the Lord.

Did I mention that I sit in a little room every Wednesday evening and every Saturday afternoon? Many of my brother priests likewise keep such weekly vigils.

You shall not steal.

This one would be easier to obey if it read, “You shall not steal when you can’t get away with it.” But the Lord makes it a sin to steal even when we can get away with it. Even if there is no law per se against the particular stealing that we do. Like calling in a favor that cheats a worthy person out of an opportunity. Or giving a golf ball, or a basketball, the attention that I really owe my wife.

Which brings us to “you shall not lie.” What standard of truthfulness must we uphold?

For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.

Who said this, and when? Then He spread out His arms on the cross, rather than leave any doubt about how pure our witness to the truth must be.

Wednesdays at 6:15. Saturdays 3:45. (Check local listings for Confession times in your parish.)

You shall not covet anything belonging to your neighbor.

Why should I want anything belonging to my neighbor? I only want God and His hidden and mysterious kingdom.

I don’t care that people might like my neighbor more than me. I never give a second thought as to whether my neighbor looks better in his or her outfit than I do in mine. The question of whether my neighbor has more clout in this town, or in this parish, than I do—such a question would never cross my mind.

When my neighbor gets more attention, or affection, or appreciation, or admiration than I do, I really do not care. All I need is God and His mysterious, hidden kingdom. I just want to live in the kingdom that we reach by being misunderstood, unappreciated, maltreated, and neglected—like the King was.

Whenever my neighbor wrongs me, I pray quietly and say, “Father, forgive him. Forgive her. He doesn’t realize. She doesn’t know.”

Whenever some great effort or substantial accomplishment of mine goes unmentioned and ignored, I rejoice inside and say, “All the glory belongs to God anyway.”

6:15 Wednesdays. 3:45 Saturdays.

Remember when we started Lent, and we set out to learn God’s ways? God has given us six luxurious weeks to crack our minds on studying His ways. Then on the seventh week, we get to rest.

Well, one thing we know for sure: God does not forgive people who are not sinners.

We could read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and we would not encounter a single passage about the Lamb of God suffering for the perfect people. God concerns Himself with blessing, understanding, loving, pardoning, and healing sinners.

In fact, the Lord seems strangely preoccupied with forgiving sins. He became man, wandered the land, taught, healed, suffered, died, rose again, founded the Church and gave us the sacraments—all for the sake of forgiving sins. He appears never to take a day off from the sin-forgiving business.

In four weeks, a few of us—our Elect—will receive the sacrament which washes sin away by a spiritual bath, namely Holy ___________.

A person can only be baptized once, of course. So, if, once I have been baptized, I commit a sin, I might as well give up, because I will never get to heaven, because no one can ever go back to the cleansing power of the baptismal font…


Right! God has given us a sacrament of “second Baptism.” Let’s make an appointment for it! Wednesday evenings at __________. Saturday afternoons at _________. (Check local listings.)

One thought on “Meditating on a Few of the Commandments…

  1. Father Mark,

    I really love open-book quizzes. Let’s see now, when are Confessions?

    “Character is what you exhibit when you KNOW nobody is watching.” That’s the quote on the wall — in the MRT unit at MCCF (that would be Moral ReTonation unit at the Montgomery County Corrections Facility, lest you be acronymed to death). He came for sinners is nowhere more evident.

    I just finished preparing the Renew Bulletin for Raphael House; and I’m both confused by the combination of Ex 20, 1 Cor 1, and Jn 2 for the readings, and satisfied that they DO fit together. Futher, the commentary by Alice Camille (“Exploring The Sunday Readings”) takes John 2: 13-25 to the notions of fidelity and popularity. By tomorrow morning, I hope to make a contiguous whole of ALL.

    As a trial balloon: CLEANSING. And, no, I’m not going out on a limb here. Thanks to your blog, I can see the drift; and it ain’t just Exodus.



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