Created and Maintained by Emily Hoyt
Last Update: 3/9/02
The Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill.
May 16, 2001 is the date set for the execution of Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh is the man convicted of bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. His supposed reason for this terrorist act of unthinkable violence is revenge against our government for violent police acts at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas. McVeigh's bomb killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Many young children died that day because the Federal Building housed a day care center.
In a recent interview, McVeigh admitted responsibility for the bombing but said that he was unaware that a day care center existed in the building. Nevertheless, he admits that he knew that there was a possibility that children could be in the building and refers to them as "collateral damage." There is no doubt that this man is full of anger and a serious threat to our society and people everywhere. Society has the right and the duty to protect its citizens from such people. McVeigh dos not seem to be remorseful for any of his actions. He was tried in a court of law and sentenced to death. many people feel that this is a just sentence given the nature of his crime. Some people are downright happy that he will be executed. In fact, motels in the area are completely booked up for that day resulting from people from out of town planning to be there for the "celebration."
Our gospel reading for Sunday April 1st, tells of our Lord dealing with the complex issue of capital punishment in the story about the woman caught in adultery. At that time, the law stated that a person caught committing adultery was to be stoned to death. But Jesus helped the people see that this was unjust and offered forgiveness to the woman. We are called to be people of LIFE not death. Therefore, an kind of killing, whether it be abortion (killing of the unborn), euthanasia (killing of the sick or elderly), war, or capital punishment, is a sin. Additionally, allowing people to live in desperate poverty and starvation when we have the means to end it is also a sin against the 5th commandment.
"The death penalty makes the state into God, deciding who is redeemable and who is not," writes Peter Gathje, ("The Death Penalty as Rejection of God's Justice" CACP News Notes, Oct. 1, 2000). "The death penalty violates God's justice in deciding that some people should not be allowed the chance at salvation, at conversion, at change. The death penalty even goes so far as to say, 'we want this person to rot in hell' - as far as we are to determine who is to be saved and who is not." There is no question that McVeigh should be imprisoned for the rest of his life, both as punishment for his crime and to protect society. However, we do not have the right to take his life.
Would I feel differently about this if one of my family members was killed by Timothy McVeigh's bomb in Oklahoma City? Probably. But being a Christian does not depend on one's feelings. Feelings of anger and revenge can occur without a person's control. Acting on those feelings, however, can be controlled and that is where we need to seek out the teachings of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not violence. He is the God of forgiveness, not revenge. We who profess to be Christians are called to be imitators of Jesus in all things.
The Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
By: Dominick A. Zarcone - a son and a father
During school years I did not always honor my father and mother. At times, I was guilty of disobedience and disrespect. Usually it was a mouth and tongue problem. Good thing I was born 1948 years after the birth of Christ; for if I had been born, let's say, 750 years before the Messiah, I would have died young! Capital punishment was the penalty for persistent disobedience. In those days the Word of the Lord instructed parents to bring a stubborn and rebellious son to the city leaders. "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear." (You can read about this drastic measure of punishment in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 21, verses 18 through 21.)
Reflecting upon that religious code of holiness helps me experience sincere gratitude for the mercy God gives sinners like me. Thanks be to God for the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ who offers forgiveness when I dishonor my father and my mother. Thanks be to God! Since God has given us the gracious gift of His Holy Spirit, we now discover that we really want to honor our parents. But why is it important and necessary to obey this commandment? Do we obey just to avoid punishment?...No. By honoring fathers and mothers, real goodness can be experienced. We know we have done a good thing. This goodness brings joy to all of us...parents and children. In fact, God Himself is pleased. Our Father who is in heaven gives His parent-like image to our moms and dads. In this way, God loves us with real heavenly love in and through our fathers and mothers. When we love our parents with obedience and respect, we really are loving and honoring God.
WOW, how good of God to give us parents. How good of God to love us in and through a mother and father. How good God is and deserving of all our love! Thanks be to God for the holy commandment which reminds us to HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER.
The Third Commandment: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
In the time of Moses, no work was allowed to be done on the Sabbath. This was explained to the people: "Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, you God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast or by the alien who lives with you." (Exodus 20:9-10) In Jesus' time, the Pharisees complained to our Lord that his disciples were not following this commandment. Jesus used that opportunity to teach us that some of the Pharisees were concentrating too much on the 'letter' of the law and not on the 'spirit' of the law. (Read Mark 2:23-28)
We are still required to follow the Ten Commandments even today. Are we sinning, then, if we do work on Sunday? Some professions, such as doctors and nurses, for example, need to work every day. A hospital cannot be shut down each Sunday in observance of the Sabbath. Even in our homes, someone has to work on Sundays cooking and cleaning for our families. In some cases, NOT to work on Sunday could be a sin, if absence of this work would cause someone else suffering.
The Catechism states: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of the Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health." 2185
I think we should look then at what work on Sunday is necessary and what is not. If someone is employed at a store that is open on Sundays they may be required to work on the Sabbath or risk losing their job. If we chooses to shop on Sunday, are we making it necessary for stores to be open and forcing employees to work? Is shopping itself a type of work that should be saved for another day? Does shopping help us to keep the Sabbath holy?
As this time of year it is especially appropriate to think about the third commandment. A generation ago, the stores were not open on Sunday at all. Now not only do we have 24 hour grocery stores, we have department stores open until 11:00 p.m. from Thanksgiving until Christmas, even on Sundays! It is an interesting irony that we could possible break the third commandment to go shopping on the Lord's birthday!
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
I know that everyone is so busy with all the wonderful activities that come with Christmas celebrations, but I encourage you to take five minutes sometime this week to sit, be quiet and reflect on the great love that God has for us. God, who is infinite in power, decided to become a little baby so He could be with us. This is the great mystery of Christmas - that God's love is infinite too. So be merry and celebrate! God has come to us! Rejoice!
Love in Jesus,
The Second Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain. Moses asked God what His name was, when he said who shall I tell the people sent me. God answered, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel I AM has sent me to you." (Exodus 3:14)
When Moses brought the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, they took this commandment very seriously. The name of God was never even spoken. The Israelites believed that the name of God was so holy they didn't even dare to speak it out loud.
When the Roman guards were coming to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked them who they were looking for. They answered, "Jesus the Nazorean." Jesus then said, "I AM." The whole company of soldiers fell face down on the ground. (John 18:4-6) This is the power of the name.
We read in the New Testament that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven, on the earth and under the earth. (Philippians 2:10) We read that we cannot be saved by any other name. (Acts 2:21) We read of the disciples healing the sick and casting out demons with the powerful name of Jesus. (Acts 3:16, Acts 16:18)
We pray Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your NAME. Over and over again we are taught that there is something special about the name of God.
So why then are we tempted to sin by using this holy name as a swear word? Just for that very reason. We are tempted because it is a sin. So, as with any sin, we must resist the temptation. If you are in the habit of using the name of the Lord in vain, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you the next time you are tempted. And use another word instead - or better yet, utter a short prayer in place of any angry or foul word.
What do we do when people around us are using the name of the Lord in vain? I work with someone who was constantly doing this when something bad happened to her or she was mad. I could have said, "Please don't use the name of my Lord as a swear word." But instead of putting her on the spot and possibly alienating her, I would smile and say, "Hey, it's not His fault!" She got the message.
The First Commandment: I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me. At first glance, this seems easy. After all, we are not like the ancient Greeks who worshipped Zeus and the other gods we learn about when we study mythology. We do not perform human sacrifice to the Mayan god of the sun or any of the hundreds of other gods the Mayans worshipped. But we need to examine what we do "worship" and if we are putting someone or something higher in our lives than our Father in heaven.
I am sometimes amazed that we think nothing of having the name of our favorite sports team in big letters on our t-shirts or jackets, but if we see someone with a religious shirt we think there is something wrong with them. They must be some kind of religious nut. Do we think more of the Bills than of God? Likewise, it is perfectly fine to spend four hours watching football on TV, but do we ever think of spending four hours in prayer or spiritual reading?
What about our appearance? Are we more concerned with how we look on the outside than what God sees on the inside? Some people spend a tremendous amount of time shopping for clothes, applying makeup, fixing their hair. Is that same amount of time being spent trying to find ways to become holier? People, especially women, feel a great amount of pressure to lose weight. We deprive ourselves of food to look better, but when the Church suggests we fast, we refuse.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing evil about watching sports or buying new clothes or trying to look our best. But where are our priorities? Do we care more about these things (in essence, worshipping them) than we care about God? Everyone, even our church leaders, struggle with sin against the First Commandment. We all need to look at our lives daily and see who or what we are worshipping. We must constantly strive to keep God as Number One.
Is there a user's manual for the child of God? Is there some kind of handbook giving us guidelines? Is there a rulebook? How can we know if we are living the Christian life the way we should?
The Ten Commandments are the perfect blueprint to show us the way in which to live lives that are pleasing to God. The Ten Commandments are found in the Book of Exodus. The is the second book of the Bible in the Old Testament. In Exodus Chapter 20, the Ten Commandments are listed. Look it up!
The Commandments in simple form are:
If we try to live by these commandments, we are well on our way to living a holy life. If we are unsure of what sin is, we can easily hold up these commandments and get our answer. We will explore each of these ten in future issues.