Third Sunday of Lent
The Ten Commandments
Points to note
An interesting salient feature of the Ten Commandments, which every Christian learns from childhood, is the many injunctions against doing things. There were speculations, probably unsubstantiated, that the original commandments were positive in nature and not negative. Whatever the scholastic proof, it is recommended that the commandments be presented as a positive action, and not a negative prohibition.
In going through the commandments, it is important to emphasise the fact that the factor underlying the commandments is love. Commentators have often noted that commandments 1-3 refer to love for God while commandments 4-6 refer to love for neighbours.
The Alleluia is not sung during the season of Lent. There is no Praise and Glory to God, the Gospel Acclamation used during Lent, as the Gospel is not read. For the same reason, there is no opening dialogue.
A Reading from the Book of Exodus
(Ex 20: 1-17)
God spoke all these words. He said, “I am the Lord, your God who brought out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
1. You shall have no gods except me. You shall not make yourselves an idol of God.
2. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
3. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall your work, but the seventh day is a holy day for the Lord your God.
4. Honour your father and your mother
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
9. You shall not desire your neighbour’s house.
10. You shall not desire your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.
This is the Word of the Lord
What is a covenant? An agreement. We often refer to a covenant as an agreement between God and his people. God first made an agreement with Noah: remember the story of the rainbow? Then, there was later an agreement between God and Abraham: remember the story from last Sunday? Then, other people wanted to know how to worship God. God then handed down the Ten Commandments through Moses as an example on how to live their lives and become people of God.
You may want to go through the Ten Commandments one by one. Encourage the children to give an example for each of the commandments as to how they could keep them.
Discuss why we should keep the commandments. Is it because we want to avoid being punished? Is it because we want to be obedient to God? It is because it is a good thing to do? Is it because we love God? Is it because we love our friends and family? In many ways, this is not a question that has a right or wrong answer. Be sensitive to what the children are saying.
Without being dogmatic, refer to Lk10:25-28, where Jesus was asked as to which was the greatest of the commandments and he replied that it was to love God and neighbour.