I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall not have strange gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
Honour your father and mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.
Isn’t a beautiful prayer? I would highly recommend making it your daily prayer. Why do I recommend it?
Firstly it teaches us that praying isn’t about us talking all the time. Whose words were we saying as we prayed the Ten Commandments? They were God’s words, weren’t they? We allowed God to speak to us, maybe for the first time in a long time. By saying them we listened to God. How often we want God to listen to us. How rarely we want to listen to what God speaks to us. When Moses, in our First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, was speaking to the People of God at the end of their forty-year-wandering through the desert, just before they were to enter the Promised Land, he said to them: ‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you.’ Why was he demanding their attention? Because God gave him a message of eternal life. The people of Israel were to be a listening people. Like Our Blessed Mother who was ‘treasuring all these things in her heart.’ When St Jerome translated the Bible for the first time into Latin he put it in this way: ‘she was having a conference in her heart.’ Mary was confronting her thinking with the words of God. What a life-giving conference.
It is the second reason I recommend praying the Ten Commandments daily. Because when we listen to God with an open heart, believing that his ‘words are spirit and life,’ we receive the best gift from God: our life is changed, our life is transformed. In the Gospel Our Blessed Lord said: ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand’ and thus he invited his listeners to become his disciples, his followers. Jesus’ disciple is the one who listens to the Word of God and welcomes it like fertile soil. You may remember the parable about the sower and the different kinds of soil. To understand is to welcome the Word of God like the fertile soil. Then the Word, like seed, starts growing in us. Does it make us immune to sin? It doesn’t. But it protects us from becoming a hypocrite, someone who instead of admitting his or her sin believes that it is OK.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Someone said that the Catholic Church has got the strictest moral commandments and the most lenient penitential system. Why do we treasure those strict commandments? Because they come from God, they are not just strict but good commandments. They are good for us. When we fail them it is not God’s fault but ours. It means that we have little faith, little courage, and little perseverance. But even when we fail the good commandants we believe that it is worth picking ourselves up from the misery of sin and to approach Jesus in his Sacrament of Reconciliation. By doing this we also send an important and life changing message to other people who at some stage of their life may be confronted by their own sin and weakness. We don’t want them to end up like Judas in despair. We want them to be like Simon Peter who realised how low he fell, when he denied his Lord and Master. Peter cried bitterly over his sins but Peter also turned to his Lord and Master for forgiveness and new life.
I pray so that the Ten Commandments, the Good Commandments, can become you favourite and daily prayer. Pray them in such a way that your praying is listening to what you say. There is spirit and life in it.