“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul…”
Taken as a whole, today’s readings speak not only of the law of the Lord as found in the reading from the book of Exodus, but of a variety of circumstances in which I hear and receive “the word of the Kingdom…” Matthew says that often the word, which I may have received in joy, does not take root either because of lack of understanding or because of the environment: “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word.”
What is there not to understand? The commandments found in Exodus seem very clear. However, consider that the Ten Commandments were addressed to a wandering, tribal community – not to the 21st century educated urban dweller. This being said the salvific truths remain, but we must read with opened eyes and hearts.
“I, the Lord, am your God…You shall not have other gods besides me…I am a jealous God, inflicting punishment…but bestowing mercy to…those who love me and keep my commandments.” There is a pleading quality to these words. I am your God, please listen to me, take me seriously. I will not abandon you. I desire you.
These laws, commandments, were addressed to a community attempting to separate themselves from other tribal communities. They were the Chosen and invited to respond accordingly. These commandments were meant to be encouragements from Yahweh – this is how one who is in a loving relationship with Yahweh would want to respond to that gratuitous relationship. One would want to love and be faithful to one’s only God. All, including Yahweh, recognized the garden of gods available and vying for attention. Still today, we are aware of the garden of gods vying for attention and adoration – money, fame, success, status, drugs, sex, body image and addictions of all manner.
We hear these same pleading sentiments – today, in the 21st century. I am your God. I am a jealous God. I love you. God longs for me. When I am aware of being involved in an intimate and loving relationship with God, these commandments fall away. As Matthew suggests, the temptations become more subtle as I grow in spiritual maturity. I no longer use or need the Ten Commandments with which to examine my conscience. As I move into deeper intimacy with the Lord, Spirit, God, the Lover – I am invited to examine my consciousness. To examine my day, my life, my relationships, in terms of, in light of my relationship with God. My relationship with God becomes foundational to all my other relationships – with family, friends, children, spouse and even professional relationships. Gradually, as I become more intimate with Jesus, with the Father, with the Spirit, I become more and more conscious of God’s loving desires for me and of God’s presence in all my relationships. Gently, God reveals my own faults, shortcomings, wounds in need of healing and tendencies to inflict pain on myself or others.
As I grow in intimacy with God, I grow in self awareness and grow in loving relationship with others.
When I am in love, not only don’t I kill, commit adultery, steal or cheat, but conversely I desire to live and breathe and have my being in Christ.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing (my) soul…”
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