In today’s first reading from the book of Exodus, we hear the familiar Ten Commandments. But, it surprised me that so much of the reading is about the first three commandments which relate to our relationship with God and so little of it is on the last seven commandments which relate to our relationship with each other.
Perhaps there is a message here for us that our relationship with God is extremely important and it impacts how we relate to each other.
After the first commandment, the author says: “I am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their father’s wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Our sins impact not only us but our children, grandchildren, great –grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. This is particularly true of sins which involve life – aborting a child, or contracepting to avoid conceiving a child. How many children of God are not here today because so many have chosen these practices? And, of course, none of us would be here today if our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents hadn’t chosen life.
Last Saturday, there was a funeral here for Tom Spellmeyer. At 59, Tom was the youngest of ten children. Mary, his mother, at 93 years young, was there for the funeral. As I looked out at the church with over 300 people present, I couldn’t help but marvel at the many lives that Tom and the other Spellmeyer children have touched over the years. What a loss it would have been if Mary hadn’t chosen life so many times!
My message today isn’t that everyone should have ten children. It is a rare person who is called to give life to that many children. Instead, my message is that everyone should listen to God’s will for them especially regarding having children. Many families today have two or fewer children and plan their families with no regard for God’s will. It is very easy to decide to have very few children so that we can have the things - cars, vacations, nice houses - which seem to be more important today.
If we listen to God’s will in these matters, he opens our hearts to the gift of life. And he gives us the grace to raise His children following His commandments. He tells us in the first commandment that we are not to have other gods before him. He is saying that we should not choose things – cars, vacations, houses – over His will for us. He knows what will ultimately make us happy.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life. We thank you for the Ten Commandments. And we pray that we will always choose life and will always follow your commandments so that, someday, we can spend eternal life with you in heaven.