God Gave the Israelites the Law, Charging Them to Honor it by How They Lived.
Rules. It seems like our lives are filled with them. But, while some rules seem arbitrary and indiscriminate, others are given to us in love by parents, teachers, and other authorities. These are rules that guide and protect our lives.
With this issue of Catechist focusing on moral formation, we pause to review God’s rules for us: his gift of the Ten Commandments.
From the Word
In Exodus, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God, beginning with the first: “‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me’” (Exodus 20:2-3). The others follow, laying out a plan for moral living guided by our loving God.
In Deuteronomy 5:32-33, Moses instructs the Israelites: “Be careful, therefore, to do as the Lord, your God, has commanded you … that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to possess.”
■ Where did Moses receive the Ten Commandments from God? (Mount Sinai)
■ Some rules may seem to be restrictions on our freedom. How might the
Ten Commandments be different?
■ Why did God give us the Ten Commandments? (Because he loves us!)
■ Go through each commandment, asking students to state one positive thing they can do to obey it.
1. RULES FOR FREEDOM. Ask each student to write down a rule they have in their family, and then have them describe a way that the rule, which may seem confining to them, may be for their own good.
2. SCRAMBLED COMMANDS. Write each word of the First Commandment on a separate card and mix the cards up in a pile. Do this for every commandment, creating 10 piles of words. Give each person or small group a set of cards for one commandment. At your call, they race to put the words of their commandment in order. Have them read their commandments aloud and explain what they mean.
3. HALF-AND-HALF. Divide the words of each commandment onto two cards. Each student chooses one card and moves around the room to find their “matching half.” When they do, they should draw a picture together of someone obeying that commandment.
New Testament Connection:
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” It is not enough to obey the commandments in our behavior; we also must have the law written on our hearts. Jesus is the New Covenant, and we are called to love like him, who gave his whole life for us.
Our goal is to show students that the Ten Commandments are not just “Thou shalt nots” to avoid, but are true gifts from God that bring us freedom and happiness — and guide us in how we show our love for him and all people.
LYNN WEHNER is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her husband and their children in Connecticut.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, January, 2018