(Continuing the Sub-section of this Series dealing with his prep
for First Communion
for First Communion
CONVERSATIONS WITH JEFFREY #28
“Grandma, where did those ten things we are not supposed to do come from?
“Jeffrey, those are called The Ten Commandments. The ten instructions from God are not laws or regulations to keep you from having fun. They are God’s loving rules for our happiness.”
“How do we know they came from God?”
“The story is in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. That records the history of the Jewish people from when they started to become a nation. God chose a certain people-group to reveal His will for all mankind, to teach them His ways of truth.”
“Did God actually write them down?
“In a manner of speaking, yes. God designated Moses to be their leader to guide them out of Egypt where they were slaves. He told Moses to go to the top of a mountain where He would reveal the principles for their daily lives.”
“Why did they need laws?”
“There were millions of Jewish people coming out of Egypt and they were not used to being a free nation. They needed good laws to help them respect authority and get along together in an orderly way.”
“Where were they going when they left Egypt?”
“It was God who had planned it all and promised the people to lead them to a good land where they could live peacefully and prosper as a nation. By giving them these basic laws they would have the principles on which their lives and their nation could be successful. We call those happy rules ‘The Ten Commandments.’”
“If those commandments were meant for the Jewish people, why do we have to follow them?”
“God intended them for all mankind because they are the foundation of a good society based on God’s love for all people and people’s respect for each other and what belongs to each person privately. They are what we call ‘universal principles.’”
“Did Jesus obey the Ten Commandments and does He want us to do so too?”
“Yes, since Jesus was Jewish and grew up in a Jewish culture, He learned those rules and obeyed them from childhood. When He grew to manhood He told His followers that His Father God didn’t send Him into the world to discard those commandments, but that He would fulfill them.”
“What does that mean?”
“That Jesus kept them perfectly because He was the Son of God. No human person is able to keep them perfectly, but we try to do so with God’s help because we know God wants us to live by those principles. We want to please God. When we fail, that is what we call ‘sin’. But when we are truly sorry and confess our sins, God is willing to forgive us.”
“Aren’t these commandments mostly for grown ups?”
“They are for all of us at every age, but the Holy Spirit and the Church shows us how to apply them to whatever period of our lives we are in. Remember, they are principles that guide us to know how we should live however young or old we are.”
“Are there more commandments than these ten that God wants us to keep?”
“Jesus didn’t really add more commandments, but He taught us many ways to apply these ten basic principles. He said that if we love God, we will want to keep His commandments. In fact, someone asked Jesus which are the greatest of the commandments and He said the ten could be summarized into two—love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love others. If we do that, we will be keeping all the commandments.”
“Is there an easy way to remember the Ten Commandments?”
“The first three have to do with our relationship with God. The seven remaining ones have to do with how we relate to other people—and that all depends on our age.
“How would I try to keep the first commandment to have no other gods before God?
“You might ask yourself whether you’ve sometimes made other things in your life more important than God. Do you talk to Him and choose whatever God wants for you more than what you want for yourself?”
“How would I take the name of the Lord in vain?”
“Do you say the words ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ when you really weren’t talking to Him or about Him? Like using His name for an exclamation. God’s name is holy. We shouldn’t use God’s name in words of anger or cursing to wish evil on someone. Or making fun of holy things.”
“And observing the Sabbath Day? Is that the same as Sunday?”
“Because Sunday was Jesus’ resurrection day, Christians from that time worship on Sunday. We try our best to worship God at Mass by singing, praying, and carefully listening to God’s Words. God meant it to be a day of rest and learning more about God.”
“I guess I might know how to honor my father and mother. That would mean to obey them and follow their rules, right?”
“It does mean to be respectful and not talk back. Our parents know what is best for us even when we don’t fully understand why we are supposed to do or not do something. We should try to do immediately what they tell us.”
“I don’t kill people, grandma.”
“In a positive way this means to be kind to others and not fight with people or injure people in any way. It includes not doing any harm to others or trying to get even with someone by causing an injury.”
“How about adultery?”
“Have you seen signs on property that say ‘No Trespassing’? What does that mean?”
“I guess it means that we are not to go on someone’s property or take anything that doesn’t belong to us.”
“That’s right. This commandment means that we should respect our own bodies and the bodies of others and keep our thoughts clean. Also not to watch movies or TV programs or read books or magazines that show people acting in improper ways with their bodies. Or telling or listening to dirty jokes.”
“I know stealing is taking something that belongs to someone else.”
“It also means to be honest and fair in everything and not damage the property of others. Cheating is a form of stealing too. And not so is not playing fair in sports or games.”
“Does ‘bearing false witness” mean lying?”
“Yes, and also saying something that is only partly true. Or saying things that will make other people lose their respect for someone even if it is true. It means not talking about other people’s faults or judging people.”
“The last two commandments talk about ‘covet.’ What is that?”
“That means to want something intensely that belongs to someone else. We should be happy with the things we have and not be jealous of anything that belongs to others. If we keep wanting something so strongly, we will soon be tempted to take it or do it—then that would be lying and stealing and disobeying other commandments.
“I guess that being unselfish and sharing my good things with others might be the opposite of ‘coveting,’ wouldn’t it?”
“You are right. God gave us The Ten Commandments, and the gospels, and the teachings in the Bible to show us how God wants us to live. In that way we can learn how to make good choices and avoid evil. The Holy Spirit helps us through the grace of the sacraments, the teachings of the Church, and the example of saints and fellow Christians.