By Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage”
- Exodus 20:2-17
I have chosen for the theme of the newsletter this year, the Ten Commandments. Why choose these statutes, you might ask? I do so for two reasons.
First, because these “ten words,” or Decalogue, contain seeds of wisdom that can help us cope with the financial and political challenges of our time. The first three commandments concern our personal relationship to the Creator who wishes to engage with us in a ‘dialogue of love.’ God, who is love, wants a return of love from us.
Second, the other seven commandments consist in how we treat one another. Here we enter into the realms of morality and ethics. In his article, “The History of Business Ethics,” Professor Richard T. De George writes: “Ethics in business is simply the application of everyday moral or ethical norms to business. Perhaps the example from the Bible that comes to mind most readily is the Ten Commandments, a guide that is still used by many today. In particular, the injunctions to truthfulness and honesty or the prohibition against theft and envy are directly applicable.”
Regarding the first reason, the truth of God’s love as the foundation of who we are helps those who have lost their jobs to find a deeper source of identity than what they do. Spiritual writer, David Stanley, explains this as he reflects on the words of Isaiah 43: 1: “Fear not! I have redeemed you. I have called you by name – you are mine.” Stanley writes: “Before I can ever begin to accept myself – one of the most fundamental acts of being human – God has already accepted me as I am. God has deigned to speak even to me…Accordingly, this basic vocation to be human has in very truth a divine dimension…(God) has called me out of nothingness, and he has called me to be supremely and totally myself.” This ‘basic self’ does not depend on externals – what I have. Rather, it is internal, who I am.
(September 2009 Newsletter)