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Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias, Professor of Theology, University of Navarra, Spain School

Looking for Christ in the Decalogue of the Commandments

Fri, 30 Nov 2018 13:43:00 +0000 Posted in Church and new evangelization

At the conclusion of his catechesis on the Commandments (from June 13 to November 28, 2018), Pope Francis explained how the Decalogue implies a liberation from idolatries and, as a fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit with his grace, a new heart. This entails the "gift of new desires" (cf. Rom 8:6) and comes to us with Jesus, who brings the Commandments to their fullness. The Decalogue is like an "X-ray" of Christ. It reveals the Christian life as an existence that is grateful and free, authentic and adult, protective and loving of life, faithful, generous and sincere.

It is the Holy Spirit who fecundates our heart by introducing into it, as a gift, the desires of the Spirit and, with them, the rhythm of the Spirit and the music of the Spirit. In the Christian who follows the desires of the Spirit, faith, hope and love spring forth. And this makes him a sharer in the beauty, the good and the truth that are fully in Christ:

"Thus we discover better what it means that the Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, to make it grow, and while the law according to the flesh was a series of prescriptions and prohibitions, according to the Spirit that same law becomes life (cf. Jn 6:63; Eph 2:15), because it is no longer a rule but the very flesh of Christ, who loves us, seeks us, forgives us, consoles us and in his Body recomposes communion with the Father, lost through the disobedience of sin."

In this way - the Argentine Pope observes, continuing with the analogy of the X-ray - the literary negativity in the expression of the commandments - "do not steal", "do not insult", "do not kill" - is transformed into a positive attitude: to love, to make room for others in my heart, desires that sow positivity: "That is the fullness of the law that Jesus came to bring us".    

Benedict XVI had already expressed, in a similar vein, that the commandments are not a package of prohibitions - a package of "don'ts" - but actually present a "great vision of life", a true culture of life:

"They are a 'yes' to a God who gives meaning to life (the first three commandments); a 'yes' to the family (fourth commandment); a 'yes' to life (fifth commandment); a 'yes' to love manager (sixth commandment); a 'yes' to solidarity, to social responsibility, to justice (seventh commandment); a 'yes' to truth (eighth commandment); a 'yes' to respect for others and for what belongs to them (ninth and tenth commandments)"(Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 8, 2006).

Therefore, Francis suggested in that final catechesis on the Commandments, "to seek Christ in the Decalogue", so that our heart may be made fruitful by love and open to the love of God, which comes with the desire to live according to Christ:

"In Christ and in him alone, the Decalogue ceases to be condemnation (cf. Rom 8:1) and becomes the authentic truth of human life, that is, the desire for love-there is born a desire for good, for doing good, a desire for joy, a desire for peace, for magnanimity, for benevolence, for kindness, for goodness, for faithfulness, for meekness, for self-control. From these 'no's' we pass to this 'yes': the positive attitude of a heart that opens with the power of the Holy Spirit".

Thus Christian morality can also be understood as a "Education of desires", promoted and realized by the fullness of the Decalogue, as clearly manifested in the Beatitudes.

As a colophon to its exhibition on the Commandments, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"Jesus says: 'I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, as I abide in him, bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing' (Jn 15:5). The fruit evoked in these words is the holiness of a life made fruitful by union with Christ. When we believe in Jesus Christ, participate in his mysteries and keep his commandments, the Savior himself loves in us his Father and his brothers, our Father and our brothers. His person becomes, through the work of the Spirit, the living and interior rule of our action. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you' (Jn 15:12)" (n. 2074).