The Ten Commandments are Only the Beginning

Well, Y’all, it’s another Monday. Another beginning to another week, although my dad would point out that “every day is the beginning of the rest of your life.” This is one of those quotes that you hear so often that you begin to dismiss them without fully acknowledging what their intention and actual meaning is. You hear it and immediately cut them off, saying “Yeah, yeah, yeah, every day is the beginning of the rest of my life. I know.”

If I’m being honest with Y’all, I reacted the same way to the Ten Commandments in today’s readings. That is, the reading began, I recognized the Ten Commandments, and began to tune them out, thinking to myself, Yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t murder or steal. Go to Church. I know.

I hate to say it, but I have heard the Commandments so much that they have lost their deeper meaning to me. I tell myself that because I follow the literal words of the Commandments, I must be a good Catholic.  If I step out of my denial, I know that the Commandments go deeper than the single meaning. I know there is so much more to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven than just ten rules to follow. For example, in the Gospel reading today, Jesus did not say that the Son of Man separated the thieves from the honest. Instead, he separates those who acted out of love for strangers from those who sinned and simply avoided sin.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Today’s readings are heavy. They remind us that we are held accountable for our every action, as well as our every inaction (the times we do nothing). They remind us that what we do here on earth will follow us on our path to the ultimate goal of God’s Kingdom.

See, you have to go a step further than just not being a murderer. Avoiding sin and following the Ten Commandments word for word is not the same as living God’s message.  Just as Jesus did, we must go out and spread His Holy Word by our actions.

Honor your parents. Be a faithful partner. But what about showing that same kind of love and respect to the rest of humankind? Every day we are given the opportunity to show love and respect by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison, yet we are choosing not to do so.

So yes, it’s easier to glaze over the readings (or even this blog) than to self-reflect, but I have a challenge for you: Ignore your justifications, not the Ten Commandments. Ignore your pride, not the people around you. Be more than just a “good enough” Catholic and choose to actively love strangers.

For an in-depth breakdown of what the Ten Commandments really cover, click here.

Since you’ve already begun to do an Examination of Conscience, take the time to begin the first full week of Lent by going to Confession. If it’s been a while, here is a guide on how to go to Confession.

Veronica Alvarado is a born and bred Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has been published in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, Catholic Spirit, as well as other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.