Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Ten Commandments & The Image of God


Rembrandt, Moses Smashing the Tablest of the Law (1659)
Earlier today I attended a marvelous presentation and discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger's Spirit of the Liturgy. The presenter, Philip Blaxton, drew out so many points, and the thoughts of all of the other participants were so insightful. One of the ideas that stood out for me was the way that our worship and ethics are intertwined. It reminded me of speaking (many moons ago) with young people about the Trinity and of how the moral life we live as Christians is nothing less than a living out of our creation in the image of God - and I would add, in a special way, the image of God the Son.

God has revealed Himself as a Trinity of Persons: A Father Who knows pours Himself out completely in His Son, the Son Who pours Himself out completely to the Father in a return of Love, the Holy Spirit. And humanity is made in this image: We receive all we are from God and give ourselves back to him by pouring ourselves out in obedient love. The Ten Commandments are a no-nonsense statement of what it means to live in God's image:

Why don't we covet our neighbor’s spouse or our neighbor’s goods? Because God does not selfishly crave but generously gives.
Why don't we bear false witness? Because God isn't falsehood, He is Truth itself.
Why don't we steal? Because God isn't about taking but giving.
Why don't we commit adultery? Because God IS faithful love.
Why can't we kill? Because God is not about taking life, He is about giving it.
Why must we honor our father and mother? Because they shared in God's act of creating us. Because we image the Son in glorifying the Father Who eternally begets Him.
Why must we keep holy the Sabbath? Because God created time as a gift to us; and we in turn make a gift of time to Him.
Why must we not take the Lord's name in vain? Because God does nothing in vain. All of His acts are purposeful and good.

And why must we have no other gods but Him? Because there are no other gods but Him. All others are fakes. He is the one true God in Whose image man and woman are made; and there is no true happiness apart from union with Him, living out our creation in His image.

This is the Decalogue given to Israel, Greek for "ten" (deca) "words" (logue)." In time, God showed us how all ten are contained within the one Word (Logos), the Word who became flesh. Christ Jesus is the "image of the invisible God," Who "fully reveals man to himself," Who brings man to the "full awareness of his dignity, of the heights to which he is raised, of the surpassing worth of his own humanity, and of the meaning of his existence" (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 4, 11).

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