Living our faith in the real world2083 Jesus summed up man’s duties toward God in this saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”1 This immediately echoes the solemn call: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.”2
The Second Commandment:
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the “ten words.” The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
==================If we really take this concept at face value, as we should since it comes from Our Lord directly, then everything we do should reflect our relationship with God. Difficult as that is to remember in daily living, we can be helped immeasurably if we think of the ten commandments as our guideposts in how to respond to God in love.
Where does that leave us when considering the second commandment in our lives? It may help us to briefly review from the previous insert on the second commandment when we examined why the ancients had a different understanding of this commandment than we do. Names conveyed such an essential reflection of the person themselves that pagans used them in conjuring. God’s people understood this sense from the fact that a change of name reflected a true change of character as well. They understood this so well that when Jesus proclaimed using “I am” which was God’s name alone, they tried to stone him for claiming to be God.
Such reactions to names these days likely would draw accusations of being superstitious to give a mere word such power. Yet, let us reflect for a moment on the fact that names are likely to still contain a great deal of power for us.
Which of us would care to hear someone using our mother’s name as a curse of frustration? How many of us could remain calm if hearing our child’s name used casually to express contempt for someone? We know and love those people and the idea of hearing them used as figures of fun or scorn in casual conversation would rouse us to fiercest anger. At the very least, this helps us understand just how far we are from knowing God as a person who we truly love if we regularly show disrespect for His name or laugh it off when others do so.
Hand in hand with our modern incomprehension of a name being important, goes the concept that to lie using God’s name is a sin. At the least, many people consider this old fashioned. However, let us remember that to call on God’s support in things that are contrary to His nature shows how very little we know or love God. In fact, it brings to light the fact that we are claiming a closeness to God which cannot exist.
Still another way that this commandment can be disobeyed in daily life is if we place responsibility on God for our own actions or use Him as a scapegoat for failures. This is a way of making God’s name exist to serve us rather than acknowledging that quite the contrary is true. Part of our essential job as disciples is to bear witness to God’s greatness, certainly not the other way around.
As when we examined the first commandment, it can be very helpful to examine our consciences in light of a deeper consideration of just what the second commandment really means. The examination below is offered in that spirit.
Examination of Conscience*: 2nd Commandment
- Do I show disrespect for God’s name by misusing it out of frustration or anger or to look “tough” to others?
- Have I sworn a false oath or lied, using God’s name to prove my sincerity?
- Do I hesitate to mention God’s name in appropriate situations, in conversations with friends and family members?
- Do I fail to keep vows or promises made to God?
- Do I blame God for our failings?
- Do I continue to learn about God by paying attention in church, religion class and through paying attention to Catholic periodicals, articles on religion in the secular press and television programs?==================Footnotes
1 Mt 22:37; cf. Lk 10:27:”. . . and with all your strength.”
2 Deut 6:4.
* An examination of conscience is not intended to be a checklist used only in preparation for the sacrament of reconciliation. The purpose is to help souls know what actions or attitudes are sinful and realize the gravity of committing them. This may help in avoidance or in turning away from sin and towards God and joy.
Friday, October 9, 2009
2nd commandment, Part 2
As at least a couple of people have requested, written for our parish bulletin, part of our occasional series.