Session 22: The First Three Commandments

Showing Love Towards God

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

-Matthew 5:17-19

For the next two Sessions we will be focusing on the Ten Commandments. This session we will look at the first three Commandments. When teaching the Commandments we will often see them divided up into two groups. At Holy Trinity we have a large painting of the prophets Moses and Elijah on the wall behind the altar. We took a picture of Moses to highlight an interesting detail that corresponds with our Sessions. In the picture below notice Moses’ tablets. What do you see? If you look closely you will see that his tablets have Roman Numerals written on them. In his right hand his tablet lists numbers 1, 2, and 3. In his left hand his tablet lists numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. This division in the Commandments is with intent. Commandments one through three teach us how to love God. Commandments four through ten teach us how to love people.

Recall that three months after leaving Egypt Moses arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai (In the Hebrew text it is referred to as Mount Horeb or Mountain of YHWH, Mountain of God). Exodus 19: 1-25. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. During their long enslavement they had forgotten how to love God. They were in need of guidance and Moses was the person who God chose to teach His message to the people of Israel. God called Moses up the mountain for this sacred encounter. Moses entered into the “Shekinah” (the radiant Presence of God) in a cloud of glory. God entered into a covenant with the Jews: They were to follow this law. He was to be their God. They were to be His people. Fidelity to the Law meant fidelity to God Himself. The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) has been an effective guide to godly living for over 3,000 years. This Law taught the Israelites how to worship God and how to live in harmony with family, friends and the rest of society. We are subject to these same 10 Commandments today.

And God spoke all these words, saying,

1.) “I am the Lord 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.”  -Exodus 20:1-3

Our lives should be a response to God’s love. What dominates our lives? Who or what do we put our trust in? God asks us to trust Him. Our daily living out of the 1st Commandment is a daily commitment to putting God first. This starts with a recognition that the Law comes from God for a standard of human behavior. God’s Law is not based on popular opinion that is changeable. He tells us who He is: God is a God of freedom. These commandments are not shackles. He is worthy of our trust and obedience. God leads us out of the slavery to sin by showing us how to use these laws to achieve holiness. 

We can begin by asking: How do I live the First Commandment? Some examples to consider are: Avoid superstitions and horoscopes. Cultivate the gift of Fear of the Lord by showing awe and wonder for God. Have a daily prayer life. Choose family entertainment that “won’t make the Blessed Mother blush.” Demonstrate obedience to the rest of the Commandments. Develop trustful surrender to the will of God.

What did Jesus say?

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” -Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus Christ called this summation the great commandment (Matthew 22:37-38).

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” -Matthew 6:24 

“Mammon” means “material wealth or possessions especially as having a debasing influence.

2.) “You shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” -Exodus 20:7

The name of the Lord is holy and unique. It should be used to bless, praise, and glorify Him. We need to guard our speech. His name was revealed in a sacred event – Moses and the Burning Bush. His name is powerful and to use it casually is irreverent.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever. From the rising of the sun unto its going down, may the name of the Lord be praised.” – Psalm 112:2-3

How do I live the Second Commandment? Some examples to consider: Respect and revere the Holy name of God. Fulfill vows made in the name of God. Keep promises made in the name of God. Bow your head in reverence when you hear or speak the name of Jesus. Work diligently to rid your family of the habit of saying, “Oh my God!” or using “OMG” when texting. This is a very irreverent habit.  If you make a promise in God’s name then you need to keep it. If you break that promise, it is an abuse of His name. Types of promises include an oath or a vow. An oath is when you call on God to witness to the truth of what we are saying. It is only appropriate in limited circumstances, like a court of law. If we deliberately call on God to bear witness to a lie, we commit perjury and this is a very serious sin. A vow is a deliberate promise made to God. It is especially pleasing to God. It is a serious religious obligation. It is only made after careful deliberation. Failure to follow through is a serious sin. A vow is made in marriage, in religious life- some are called to make a vow of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Blasphemy is insulting language which expresses contempt for God, His saints, and holy things. It involves using words of hatred or defiance. If you use God’s name to commit a crime, it can cause others to reject religion.

Remember the words of St. Paul:

“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:9-11

3.) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” -Exodus 20:8

This is a day of rest. This is the day we celebrate the saving action of our Lord. In the Old Testament, Israel was to keep the Sabbath as a sign of their Covenant with God and to recall God’s creation and his saving actions for Israel. The Sabbath was transferred to Sunday after the Resurrection in the 1st century Church. Every Sunday we rejoice and are glad for the resurrection of Jesus. Through His Resurrection, we have become a New Creation.

“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

How do I live the Third Commandment? Some examples to consider: It is a day for public worship and thanksgiving. This is why we attend Mass. Rest and relax with family. Re-create your relationship with God and your family. Do works of mercy. Avoid shopping and using services outside the home that force another person to have to work on Sundays.

Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: I Am: God’s name to represent enteral now. Vain: useless, no real value

Prayer of the Week: Hail Mary

Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: By now your child should know the Glory Be, the Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God prayer, Hail Mary, and Our Father. Practice the Morning Offering prayer.

Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Complete Spirit of Truth pages 118-119, 123-126, 130-131, 134-138. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, Morning Offering, and an Act of Contrition. Keep practicing these every night.

Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 16, lesson 18, pages 106-110 and 116-119.By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, and an Act of Contrition. Start memorizing the Apostles’ Creed.

Watch grades k-2: Watch part of Superbook: The Ten Commandments with your child (you can begin at 8:30 and end around 17:26 for the part about Moses on Mt. Sinai). And the 10 Commandments Song.

Watch grades 3-6: Watch The 10 Commandments with your child just up to the 4:11 mark.

Read: The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken. This picture book is so very beautifully illustrated with vibrant colors and complex images. Each page has plenty visually for children to discover with each picture telling more of the story. The story is one of our children’s favorites, I dare say our copy of this book has seen better days, and one we often gift. This book would compliment the Commandments topic and is a great addition to the lesson. A loving and talented quiltmaker lives high in the mountains sewing beautiful quilts. Her quilts are beautiful and have become noteworthy far and wide. Many people try to buy her quilts but the quiltmaker will not sell them, they are not for sale.  At night she goes into town giving each one away to someone in need.  A rich and powerful king full of greed demands one of her quilts. She tells him she will only give him one if he will abandon his greedy ways and learn the lesson of genuine giving. Generous acts of giving come from God.  WE can only find true happiness when we turn towards God’s will.  The generosity of sharing with others glorifies God by the acts of loving care for all of God’s people. Scripture connection would be: James 1:17, Psalm 41:1, 2 Corinthians 9:13.

Activity Ideas: There are many crafting activities for the 10 Commandments. We have a few ideas to try: Do the Commandment Crafts that teach about the First Three Commandments. Here is an easy craft to make for all the 10 Commandments. This is a resource you will need to purchase.

Family Faith Formation Ideas:

  • Make a list of family commitments and do a re-evaluation of your family’s priorities.  Where does God fit into your schedule? What ‘gods’ are interfering with your relationship with the One, True God?
  • Make a family “reparations” jar. Each time a family member uses God’s name inappropriately, $1 is added to the jar. Use that $ to serve a good cause. Continue this practice until the habit is broken.
  • Make an effort to reorient your Sundays so they reflect what is asked in the Third Commandment.

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