The Catholic Church abides and believes in the Ten Commandments, sometimes referred to as the Decalogue. This can be seen as a legislative body of rules. From the time when God issued them on Mount Sinai to Moses (Exodus 20:2-17) that is how some people practiced them. However, Jesus came to clarify how we fulfill those Commandments.
When God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses he said:
- I, the Lord, am your God. You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Fulfilling the Law, The Law of Love
Jesus came to fulfill the Law and so he did. He summarized the Ten Commandments into two great commandments revolving around the theme of love. Jesus said to love God with all you heart, all your soul and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-39).
Jesus gave us a clear vision of the purpose of the Ten Commandments – they are a framework for Christian life. Sure, they can be seen as big set of rules that we have to follow if we don’t want to go to hell or stay on grandma’s good list, but they are so much more than that.
Jesus’ point was that love fulfills the law. You cannot fulfill God’s law and God’s will if you do not have love. Love requires a certain amount of sincere desire in one’s heart so in order to truly follow God one be serious within his or her own heart and not merely by action or deed (which is why Jesus chastised the Pharisees so much).
Fulfilling God’s will by truly desiring to serve God and serve your fellow humans, no matter how good or bad they are (judgment is left to God and God alone), will grant you free access to heaven.
But in order to get to heaven it is not just from faith but also from within that we must change and only with the help of Jesus.