Review of the Ten Commandments (Part 1)

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

The Ten Commandments is perhaps the most popular rules of life, but I believe majority of Catholics even regular Sunday going Catholics have not memorized it.  It’s good to revisit it and explore what sins does each commandment involve and hopefully we can commit the entire ten to memory.  The first three commandments cover our duties towards God and the last seven are our responsibilities towards our neighbor. Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ summarized the ten commandments as love of God and neighbor.  “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.”  (Exodus 20:2-3) We might think that this commandment is outdated since no one really engages in idolatry anymore or worshipping other gods.  We might say, gone are the days when people would worship the sun, the moon and the stars or golden calves.   But this commandment also refers to worshipping or giving utmost importance to things or persons other than God.  We always have something or someone that is of supreme value to us.  A thing or person that would be our center of gravity or the center of our life.  It can be our career, it might be money, reputation, our partner in life, our pleasures (or nowadays it’s called addictions) or our own ego.  The first commandment is telling us that the only person we should give the highest worth is God, over anything or anyone.  That’s what loving God above all things mean.  When we love and worship God above all, our lives fall into harmony, and if not, it goes out of tune.

Second Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”  (Exodus 20:7) If we are to love God above all, it ought to follow that we should speak with reverence of God, which includes all sacred persons and things related to God such as the saints and the sacraments of the Church.  The second commandment also obliges us to keep our oaths and vows that calls on the name of God.  An oath is calling on God to witness the truth of what we say such as testifying in a court trial.  A vow is a promise made to God to do something pleasing to God under pain of sin.  This normally refers to vows made by religious people such as nuns and priests to serve God in a certain Church congregation.

Third Commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.”  (Exodus 20:8) If God is the love of our life, then we should try to talk to Him every day through prayer.  We can converse with God at home or in a chapel.  But even though we pray to God in a private manner, God demands we pray and honor Him in a public way as well.  Thus, we are obliged to worship God on Sundays by attending Holy Mass.  We are a one big family in the Church, and we need to gather together to worship and honor our one Father God as a family or as a community.  Our being a one big family is very beneficial for us because it means we don’t have to practice our spiritual life alone and that we are accompanied by others who can help us in our spiritual needs.

Fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” (Exodus 20:12) The people we ought to love the most after God is our parents.  The fourth commandment is said to be the easiest commandment to fulfill because by nature we would love and honor our parents.  Something would be terribly wrong with you if you don’t love your parents who raised you up and cared for you.  The honor that we render to them is to obey them in their guiding directives to us and to help our parents when they are in need.  The fourth commandment is not just a one-way street but includes also the duty of parents toward their children.   Parents must provide for the spiritual and bodily welfare of their children.  The fourth commandment includes also respect and obedience (to things not sinful) to lawful superiors such as aunties and uncles, teachers, priests, public authorities, etc.  (To be continued in the next article)