for Sunday, March 15, 2009
In the Louvre Museum in Paris visitors can see a carved stone pillar known as the "Code of Hammurabi." This eight-foot stone monument depicts an ancient Babylonian ruler and the body of law, which governed life under his rule - justice, family life, commerce and so on.
Hammurabi's laws represented his expectations for his people. In today's first reading we hear the Ten Commandments - what one Scripture scholar calls the "Bill of God's Rights in the covenant." They spell out the responsibilities of God's people, their part of the covenant agreement. God promises to lead them safely to land of promise, and there give them life. In return, the people are to respect God and each other.
The Ten Commandments are still practical guides for Christian living today. Sadly, they've also become the objects of political controversy, as communities' debate about their public display. In the Gospels, Jesus urges us to live out the commandments - not just put on an exterior display. If respect for God and neighbor are not written in our hearts, it's unlikely they will find public expression.
The gap between inner conviction and external action saddened and angered Jesus. In today's Gospel he offers his own "covenant renewal" as he cleanses the temple.
As we renew our baptismal commitment this Lent, let's seek to enshrine God's commandments in our hearts with a resolve to love and to serve.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: