The first reading at Mass on this third Sunday of Lent is from the book of Exodus where Moses is given the Ten Commandments. How do we read the Ten Commandments today? Do we consider them as just rules and regulations to be dismissed? Do we see them as obstacles to our freedom? For Jews and Christians, the Ten Commandments are not a list of cold prohibitions but they protect what is of greatest value in human life. For example, ‘you must not kill’ is another way of saying ‘protect human life’. ‘You must not steal’ is another way of saying ‘you must respect the name, rights and property of another’. The Commandments therefore are a blueprint for a well ordered life that is centered on worship of God and the social harmony that is the fruit of that. That is why the Commandments were given to the people after their escape from slavery in Egypt. They were given to preserve their freedom and not to infringe it. Therefore, the Ten Commandments are a blessing for us and a guide on how to life a life that is centered on God and where there is right order and harmony among all of us.
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