Saturday after Sexagesima
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-23 (NKJV)
1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 You shall not make anything to be with Me—gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.”
“And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.”
Why should cutting stone or shaping stone be such a problem? Why would that “profane” the altar? God is teaching us here that His blessing is not earned by our efforts. Even in the midst of the sacrifices that He commands, He wants us to know that the blessings are not the result of your efforts in that sacrifice. Your temples cannot house Me, nor do they impress Me. Your salvation will come from only one direction, from God. Don’t confuse God’s grace with the works of men’s hands. If men believe they have contributed to their own acceptance or righteousness, they have profaned God’s gifts.
It is the same today. If we believe that we can contribute to our salvation with our efforts or with beautiful things, we have thrown the gift of God in the mud. Today, the Sacrament we receive at the altar isn’t the body and blood of Christ because we believe it. It is His body and blood regardless of our belief. We merely receive it in faith, and faith is not a work. God is the mover. We are passive. Salvation and life come from only one direction.
We pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, give us grace to see and believe that You are the source of all our blessings, all our forgiveness, and all our life. Help us to put away any ideas that we can do more or earn more from You. Let us be willing and receptive vessels; in the Name of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.