sexta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2015


I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery.

Exodus 20:2 (read 20:1-17) – NIV

The Ten Commandments begin with words of grace which is the good news of the divine initiative: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt" We think of the Decalogue mostly as a series of rules of conduct and forget their introduction. The words just before the Decalogue are more important than the commandments themselves, because they speak of the action if the Eternal One and not of humans. The essence of a healthy spirituality is the art of being thankful for the gift of life. Life should be a response to God's goodness.

It's frustrating to contemplate the Decalogue as laws to obey. Not even God obeys them. God kills. He ordered the people to steal from the Egyptians as they left Egypt. He commanded the Israelites invade other people's land, killing all men, women and children and destroying everything. He gets very angry when His orders were not followed to the very letter. God does not set the example.

Instead of being a list of standards to be achieved, the commandments reveal human frailty. They list what the people do not practice. While Moses was on the mountain top receiving the tablets of the law from the hands of God, the people were in the valley worshiping a golden calf. The purpose of the commandments is to lead us to recognize our weaknesses and shortcomings and seek healing. The cure is not in obedience to a set of rules and laws, but in receiving with gratitude the care of the Creator.

Before speaking of the "perfect law" of the Eternal (Psalm 19), the Psalmist speaks of the works of God recognizing His glory. The perfect law is to give us strength, confidence, wisdom and joy. It reveals our mistakes and makes us open to release. It is Divine Grace, not the law, that purifies us and empowers us to live according to the will of the Creator.

Institutional religion tends to idolize the law and judge people according to the laws that it itself establishes and sanctions. Jesus broke the laws of the Sabbath, because he thought love was above any law. He was crucified because he challenged the idolatry of invisible idols which were worse than the worship of visible images.

Churches as institutions put their Canons, doctrines and structures as supreme values. Mercy is practiced to the extent that it does not weaken the idolized system. Most of the human and financial resources of churches are used for self-maintenance and self-promotion. The institutional church doesn’t let itself become vulnerable and sacrifice itself for a greater good of all. It wants to be triumphal and project itself from the world. It leaves little room for God to reveal His deeds and show what He or She can do with people who confess their weakness.

The purpose of the Law is to reveal the need for love and forgiveness and to open us up to receive grace.



And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

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