Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Ten Commandments

Homily/Sermon for Lent 3 - March 15th

This Sunday, the first reading is of the Ten Commandments. How well do you know them?

Here’s a good quiz for the family. Give each person a piece of paper, and ask them to write down the Ten Commandments. See who can get all ten. I bet some of them put down ‘Love your neighbour’ which isn’t one of then. And I also bet that few of them put down about covetting - and might not even know what the word means (it means jealously wanting to have what others have, sort of keeping up with the Jones’. In many ways our society is built on covetousness).

Now we can deplore the fact that few know the Ten Commandments off by heart, and still fewer understand them, and yes, there is a point to be made, but the reciting of words is not quite the same as living them. It’s not that the words aren’t important, of course they are, but far more important than to know the words by heart is to live them from the heart.

It is one thing to know it is wrong to tell a lie - it is quite another to be outraged by the temptation to benefit from a convenient untruth.

It is one thing to know it is wrong to steal - but it is another to turn our backs on the odd scam or bargain from a questionable source.

It is one thing to know that we should keep each Sunday by going to mass - yet another to rejoice in the celebration of our faith.

Now then, when people hear the story which is Sunday's Gospel reading - the story of Jesus clearly angry, entering the temple, overturning the money changers’ tables and driving them out with a whip - some ask how can this be? Isn't it a sin to be angry?

Well anger itself is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments. And in any case, Jesus’ apparent anger is a zeal for truth, a thirst for honest dealing and a yearning for a faith that comes from the heart - not words only, but words that are expressed in deeds.

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