Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 13:18-23)
People often speak of the necessity to set boundaries. These are limits that allow relationships to develop without friction. For example, a person may tell friends that he does not want to be called after 10 p.m. Often boundaries are implied by the nature of a relationship. Teachers should not date their students even when both are adults.
In the first reading today God sets boundaries for humans. Not keeping the Sabbath or stealing injures our relationship with the Lord. It should be noted, however, that a literal observance of the Ten Commandments hardly fulfills one’s responsibilities as a Christian. It is not enough that she refrain from worshipping idols; she must also love God with her whole mind and heart. It is not enough that he not covet his neighbor’s wife; he must love his neighbor as himself. This is why, when asked, Jesus did not name any of the Ten Commandments as the greatest.
In writing his moral theology Thomas Aquinas did not concentrate on the commandments. He realized that if we are to come to know God, we have to do much more than follow rules. We have to practice virtue. This is a huge task that might exhaust us from the get-go except for the Holy Spirit. God breathes this life into our bones so that we might not only avoid evil but also do lots of good.