Homilette for Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 13:18-23)

We recognize the Ten Commandments or Decalogue in the first reading today not only because we likely engraved these rules in our brains as children but also because they are written on our hearts as natural law. That is, they hold not just for Jews and Christians but for every person, with due contextualization and provisions.

A number of years ago a retired judge from Alabama hauled around the country a 5000 pound granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments. He wanted to impress on everyone he met that the Decalogue is more than a personal code for one to live by. Rather it forms a coherent basis of law for a society or nation. Although the Ten Commandments mention God and even prescribe worship of Him, it is not primarily a religious code but, again, the ground for nation-building.

We may sometimes resent the commandments because they seem to inhibit our lifestyle. Perhaps we want to work on Sunday or avoid problems by lying in defiance of the commandment not to bear false witnesses. Such resentment is only unfortunate because it blurs our seeing the Commandments as a sign of God’s great mercy. In attending to them we live a worthy life. By infusing them with love, as Jesus tells us, we move well along the way to happiness.