Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 20)
March 04, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Exodus 20 (Monday of the Third Week of Lent)

God spoke all these words, saying, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

All the people perceived the thunderings, the lightnings, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled, and stayed at a distance. They said to Moses, “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die.”

Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won’t sin.” The people stayed at a distance, and Moses came near to the thick darkness where God was.

Yahweh said to Moses, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. You shall most certainly not make gods of silver or gods of gold for yourselves to be alongside me. You shall make an altar of earth for me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record my name I will come to you and I will bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it. You shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it.’

For our sake Christ became a merciful high priest. The Law given to the people of Israel through the mouths of angels ordered the immediate punishment of those who fell into sin. Paul tells us that anyone who violates the Law of Moses is put to death on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Under the Law, therefore, priests never had the least thought of showing mercy to anyone convicted of negligence. But Christ became a merciful high priest. He did not punish people for their sins, but justified all by his grace and compassion. Moreover, he taught us how to worship in a spiritual way, and by giving us a clear vision of the truth, he showed us how to live worthily. This is the message of the Gospel.
Nevertheless, by teaching us the truth he did not mean to censure the Law of Moses, or to refute the ancient Prophets. It was a question rather of removing the shadow that overlay the writings of the Law, and of replacing symbols by worship in spirit and in truth. He made this perfectly plain when he said: Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfil them. I assure you that the Law will not lose a single dot or stroke until its purpose is achieved.
Changing types into the reality they signified was not nullifying, but fulfilling them. A painter, by covering his basic design with a variety of colour, does not destroy it but brings it out more clearly, and this is what Christ did when he transformed the crudity of symbols into the reality they represented.
Yet the people of Israel failed to understand this mystery, even though it had been foretold in many ways by both the Law and the Prophets. Indeed, Christ our Saviour himself tried to show them through many marvellous deeds that although for our sake he had become a man according to the divine dispensation, he was still God as he had always been. To help them to realize this he did things that were beyond the power of any man – God alone could perform such miracles. He raised the dead from their graves when they were already in a state of corruption; like the Creator, he made the blind see the light of day; he rebuked unclean spirits with authority; he cured lepers by a word of command; and there were other things he did that were marvellous beyond description. Therefore, if I am not acting as my Father would, he said to them, do not believe in me. But if I am, even if you do not believe in me, accept the evidence of my deeds. (Cyril of Alexandria)
Musical Selection (Ps19b; Sons of Korah)
The law of the Lord is perfect
Reviving the soul, the soul
The ways of the Lord can be trusted
Making wise the simple, the humble

The precepts of the Lord, they are right
Giving joy unto the heart

The commands of the Lord are radiant
Giving light to the eyes, to my eyes
The fear of God is pure forever
The word of God is sure and right

They are more precious, even more than gold
Sweeter than the honey from the comb

By them your servant is warned
To keep them is great reward

Who can discern His errors? Forgive all my hidden sins?
And keep his servant from willful sins
May they not rule over me, o Lord
Then I’ll be blameless and innocent of sin
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Be pleasing in your sight, o Lord, my rock, my redeemer.


Lord God,
we pray that your endless mercy
may cleanse and protect your Church;
and, since it cannot stand firm without you,
guide and govern it always by your grace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.