“Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God” Exodus 20
St. Paul wrote these words: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
During Lent we have been rehearsing the Ten Commandments. From the reading from the Exodus we heard that God spoke these words; I AM the LORD your God…
I don’t know about you but I always think about Charlton Heston in the Cecil B. De Mille classic film, “The Ten Commandments.” I can see Moses on the mountain while God is inscribing the commandments on the tablets, then coming down the mountain with the tablets in his hands, his hair has turned white and he is glowing from his encounter with the Almighty.
It s a great dramatization of the Lawgiver leading the people of God. The lowly Hebrew people were set free by mighty acts of God, and Moses was their Messiah.
Did it really happen this way? I don’t know, but it’s a great story and that is what matters. It was the quintessential event that shaped a race of people and the story is recounted year after year where the young are taught and the people never forget.
These Laws are important to us as Christians as well. Not only do they give us a framework for how we relate to God and to each other, it defines us as a people as well.
In verse 2 of this section of the Exodus, God establishes his identity and his authority: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
This action of setting the people free from bondage is what made them who they are. They were no longer slaves, serving Pharaoh, but the People of God. The story of salvation is buried deep in the psyche of the Jews, and we Christians.
Moses, the Law Giver, was the savior of the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt.
Jesus, The Son of God, is the savior of the world from our slavery to sin.
So, can the Law save us? Must we follow the Law to the letter to be saved from sin and death? I don’t know about you, but I know I will never be good enough to be saved by the Law. That is what the Law demands. Jesus knew this, and told his disciples they would never be saved under the Law.
Does that mean we can ignore the Law? By No Means! The Ten Commandments are still a good rule of thumb for our behavior with God and with each other. We rehearse them to honor them in our lives. But the Law cannot save us.
The only way we can be saved from sin and death is through the Cross of Christ. The Cross was the means of death for Jesus, and the Cross is the means of life for us.
During Lent we add a devotion during the week. We call it the Stations of the Cross. It is also known as the Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrows.
We walk the path of these 14 stations and remember the journey that Jesus took on his final day as an earthly man. If you have never been I urge you to come at least once and experience what Jesus did for you and me. It reminds me of the price Jesus paid for my sins.
Many of us where Crosses on chains to keep them close to us. These crosses are not mere jewelry to dress up an outfit. They are the symbols of our means of Everlasting Life.
We veil them in Lent because we are focusing on his period of Jesus separating himself from the world, and his testing in the desert.
A fellow priest wrote this:
“Why veil crosses during Lent? Perhaps to train us to perceive the glory of the Cross. Perhaps so we can learn to sing with joy, “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which was hung the salvation of the world.” Perhaps because we come to see the Cross clearly through the light of the Resurrection.”
For a little while we will be separated from the view of the cross. On Good Friday, the cross will take center stage as the instrument of death is transformed to the instrument of Life.
Lent allows us to prepare to see the Cross again as central to our lives. It is never really gone, just only out of sight for a little while. We will see the Cross again, just as we will see our Savior Again. O come let us adore him.