I am the Lord
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.
“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.
“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
“You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus is the rule book of the Old Testament, and precedes Deuteronomy which is the “copy of the law.” It covers all topics of the Jewish faith from sacrifices and offerings to behavioral, ethical and economic issues. It sets the rules for both the people and the Priests. Rules are good as they provide boundaries and guidelines so we don’t have to make the same mistakes over and over again. They keep people in line, provide safety from one another, and sets clear punishments or ways to atone when the law is broken. It also sets the authority (the Lord), who makes the rules and who enforces the rules (the Levites and eventually Judges and kings). The thing about these rules, the 10 Commandments, is they can never be perfectly obeyed. It is such a high standard that not breaking a commandment is unattainable in our sinful state. The beauty of the Commandment is they make us fully dependent on God. This can be difficult and disheartening for some, but we need to turn the struggle to God and rely on the help only He can provide us to not break the Commandments. It also sets up the people of Israel (and us) to need a Savior, an intermediary, to go before the Lord on our behalf, someone who understands our struggles and has mercy and love for us. He would need to be perfect, flawless and sinless. Hmmm, who that could be? How can one person do all of this? Let’s see…
Looking at the Commandments in this reading, these are just a few of the things that God expects of us. He expects us to be holy. We are made in the likeness and image of God. He is holy and pure light and He cannot be around anyone who is dark and not holy. Jesus came to offer forgiveness and to make us holy before His Father. Through His death and resurrection, He opened the gates of heaven and goes before the Father to tell Him who has been made holy. He tells His disciples, “every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
God hates liars and deceivers. It is lying and deception that separated Adam and Eve from Him in the Garden. It breaks the Covenant, creates distrust and brought death into the world. Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Therefore, it is only through the truth that we can get to God. We must believe and follow Jesus because He is the Truth.
We also need to never use the name of the Lord in an angry, derogatory way or swear by the name of the Lord something that is false. He is holy and always worth all glory and praise. When we take His name is vain, or swear using the name of the Lord, we are distorting His name and associating it with something evil. Imagine if all the people in the world used your name as a way to show their anger or swore by your name something that was a lie? People may then associate you, because of your name, with the tone or attribute that is used with it. Think about how about these names evoke strong feelings: Pontius Pilate, Hitler, or Bin Laden. If we have not fasted from using the Lord’s name in vain, begin today and only use His name in a form of awe, wonder, thanksgiving, and praise. Give glory to God in His name, because He deserves nothing less.
Lent in Action:
Abstain from using the Lord’s name in anger, and if you do put aside one dollar every time to be donated to a Catholic charity.
My God, I am sorry with all my heart for all of the Commandments that I have broken. I am especially sorry for any lies and deception that I have committed against others and You. I also am sorry for the times when I have not used your name in praise and thankfulness, and not shown glory to You. With your help, I will do my best to follow your commands, forgive where forgiveness is needed and to only say your name to further the truth, and to give you all the glory and praise. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.