The Commandments that God gave to humanity were meant for one purpose–to help us have life and have it more abundantly. When we choose to live God’s law, we are choosing a path that is life-giving both here and in heaven.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Today’s first reading begins, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments…” This doesn’t meant that it doesn’t matter whether you do, like choosing to have Chinese or burgers for dinner; but that God always respects our free will. The statement also suggests that it’s within our grasp to follow the commandments–that we can actually do it. God gave us laws to help us know right from wrong, and so that, if we do keep them, that we will find happiness. It’s not necessarily an easier path, but ultimately it makes us more free and joyful.
St. Paul, quoting Isaiah, continues on this theme saying that, “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” We can’t even imagine what wonderful things God has planned for us when we choose a relationship with God by following the law that God gave us. To people who don’t believe in God, our following God’s laws sometimes seems silly–forgiving our enemies, being kind to those who aren’t kind to us–the rest of the world would think that was nuts. But, we know better…
Most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments, and they are the basic laws that God wants us to follow. They seem pretty cut and dry, but Jesus shows us that there’s more than meets the eye with them–every single possible sin is contained within the Ten, and Jesus tells us about three of them this Sunday. Jesus says that “thou shall not kill” doesn’t just mean don’t end a person’s life, it means you’re not allowed to hold on to anger. We have to make sure that we’re not killing another person’s spirit, or their self esteem, or their reputation…there are a lot of ways to “kill” aspects of a person. It’s the whole “spirit of the law” that we hear about throughout the Christian Scriptures. So, when we say that we believe in God, and that we want to follow God’s laws, we need to make sure that we are living them fully–making our “yes” mean “yes, and our “no” mean “no”.
Do you sometimes find it difficult to follow the rules that you are given? What makes them hard to follow? Why do you think that you were given rules to follow?
Jesus says that being angry with your brother is a sin. Do you think that’s true? Actually, anger is not a sin when it first occurs–our natural reactions to events and situations help us know whether they are good or bad–anger tells us that something is wrong. Now, if we hold on to our anger instead of working out why we are angry and how we can resolve the problem, then we enter the realm of sin. It’s when we choose to keep the pain, to nurture our ill-feelings that cause us to harm our spiritual life–it makes us feel like we have died a little (or a lot) inside. Can you think of a situation when you found this to be true? Can you think of a situation when you dealt with your feelings as Jesus would have you do? What was the result that time?
Can you think of a time when you made the choice to follow the Commandments and were met with ridicule or anger? How did it work out?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”