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Ex 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
1 Cor 1:22-25
The reading from Exodus of the giving of the commandments puts into context the absolute prohibition of killing human beings. Before he says, “Thou shalt not kill,” God says “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
In other words, his commands are given in the context of his relationship with us. He rescues us, he frees us, he makes a covenant with us, he shares his life with us. From these realities flow the commandments. He is not simply imposing something on us from the outside; rather, he is showing us what the new way of life entails. We obey the commandments because we’re God’s children. We respect life not just because “God said so,” but because God is life. We are to be truthful because God is truth. We are to be just because God is justice, and if we share in his life, we will act like him.
This is the positive context in which our people can understand the absolute command to respect, promote, and defend life. It is not a burdensome command; rather, as today’s psalm tells us, it “refreshes the soul,” because it shows the soul the way to happiness and fulfillment.
Our Lord’s promise to raise up the temple of his body (today’s Gospel passage) completes this whole context, because it is only through his resurrection that the life of God can be given to us. That risen life, of course, is what the catechumens are preparing all during Lent to receive. Moreover, each of us is preparing, through Lenten penance, to renew the promises of our baptism at Easter – the promises to follow the new way of life which the commandments reflect.