I, the LORD am your God…
You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain… Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Honour your father and your mother,
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”
Exodus 20:1-3,7-8, 12-17
Each of the commandments… is not some external and irrational fiat from an alien God. Rather, each is an expression of the truth God has made in us. If we worship idols or worship our work, if we covet person or property, if we dishonour those who have given us life, we not only reject the law of God, we destroy what we are. For the duty imposed on us by God is not a function of … pure rationality or some arbitrary legislation of a distant deity. It is the duty to be true to what we are—limited but loved creatures.
Jesus, for Christians, is the new law, the law of God enfleshed. He is not only “truly God,” our creed says; he is “truly human.” His life, like the commandments themselves, may be a stumbling block and an absurdity to us at times, but we proclaim it, nonetheless, our way and our truth. The commandments, all encompassed in the new commandment of love of God and neighbour, may seem folly, but God’s folly is wiser than human provision.
We will always struggle with this. And since Jesus himself has promised to remain in our midst, we can look to him as a healing of our guilt.
But we should be forewarned. He may come to us with words as stern as those he spoke to the people despoiling the temple. “You have turned it into a den of thieves.” John Kavenaugh, SJ
Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said,“ Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” (John 2:13-25)