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The Ten Commandments are divided into two sets. The first three deal with our relationship to God and how to worship him, and then, following from these commandments, comes a whole series of commandments concerning our relationship with other people.

As we enter into the heart of Lent, reflecting on how we keep these commands can become the impetus to deepen our commitment to the Lord.

“Honor your father and your mother.” What is the quality of your relationship with those who are nearest and dearest to you? If things are off there, they are probably off everywhere else.

“You shall not kill.” Very few of us have actually killed another person, but what is the role that violence plays in your life? What is the quality of your temper? Have you effectively killed people, that is to say, rendered them lifeless? Do you enhance the lives of those around you, or are people less alive after they’ve been with you?

“You shall not commit adultery.” The Bible is not obsessed with sex, but it does recognize the importance of our sexuality in the moral sphere. Much of our popular culture wants to teach us that sex is basically amoral, a matter, finally, of indifference. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, so says the culture, anything goes. But sex, like every other part of us, is meant to serve love, to become a gift. Is your sex life self-indulgent, simply for the sake of your pleasure? Do you lust after others, using them for your own sexual satisfaction? Do you practice forms of sex that are simply perverse?

“You shall not steal.” Do you steal other’s property, even very small things like little amounts of money? Do you steal someone’s good name and reputation through gossip?

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” What is the quality of your speech? How much time do you spend inveighing against your neighbor, even making things up to make him look bad?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or wife.” The philosopher René Girard suggests that we imitate other people’s desires, wanting things simply because other people want them. This can easily lead to conflict and dysfunction. What is it that you are coveting in your life, especially that which others have or desire?

This Lent, suppose that Jesus has made a whip of cords, knotted with the Ten Commandments. What would he clear out of you?

By Fr Robert Barron (wordonfire.org)

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