Today’s first reading continues from the Book of Exodus. In today’s selection, we see Moses erect the Dwelling of the LORD, as God commanded. In this Dwelling Moses placed the Ten Commandments, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. (Exodus 40)
Notice how the Ten Commandments serve for the Israelites as the very presence of God in their midst. The stones or tablets containing the Commandments of God are treated with the utmost reverence, treated as if they are not a cold word chiseled into stone, but as a Living Word that continues to speak, guide, accompany, and direct the people of Israel.
Notice how the Commandments of God are at the heart of the community, indeed, The Heart of the People of Faith. Just as this was true in the early days of God revealing Himself to Moses, it holds true for all times. God is the Supreme Law Giver, because God is the Creator. God has created all in complete harmony, and thus wishes to reveal to us how to live in harmony with this natural order which is written in every human heart.
Nothing has changed from then until today. God and His Word and Law are still the heart of the community. That is why our Founding Fathers got it right when they wrote into our Constitution and established Religious Freedom as a founding principle of a well ordered society. A well ordered society and the laws that govern it are built upon the natural law and the very Law of God.
We must be alert to those who wish to diminish Religious Freedom to a simple understanding of freedom of worship. Worship is fine and good, but can quickly be restricted to the private sphere. Freedom of Religion has implications for all of the human family, for all of society, and surely for a well-ordered society according to the natural law.
Once God revealed Himself to Moses, and through the Ten Commandments to His people, He went even further in sending us His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that He has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Thus to know and follow Jesus is to follow the way of Truth.
Once Jesus came among us through the Incarnation, He did not abandon us. He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, leaving us the gift of His Holy Spirit, His Church and the Sacraments. Today, Christ remains in a privileged and sacred place as Eucharist in the tabernacles of churches throughout the world – very similar to the Ten Commandments that rested as the accompanying presence in the Dwelling Place of Moses.
In the person of Christ, God has pitched His tent permanently in our midst. Our God is faithful. Our God is with us. God never leaves us, and is always ready to be our strength and guide. God has created each of us with a conscience to know Him and to know His way, truth, law, life.
This conscience helps us to know what is right and wrong; to know good and evil; and to choose accordingly. Our conscience is created to know Truth, and is drawn to an ordered life that respects the natural law.
Here is where a critical point of correction is needed in our time. People are not free to pick and choose and do simply as they wish. We are created to follow conscience, which means to follow the LORD and His way. Thus, conscience needs to be properly formed and respected, both individually and communally.
Let us pray for wisdom in discerning the Truth over the false messages and false prophets of our day. Let us pray for the grace to recognize the way God is accompanying us today. Let us pray for a proper understanding of Religious Freedom. Let us pray that the laws that govern us today, and those who are responsible for making these laws remain firmly grounded in the Supreme Law Giver, from Whom all justice and good order flows.