by Pope John Paul II –
The Creator, who at the same time is the supreme lawgiver, has inscribed on the human heart the whole order of truth. This order determines what is good, provides a foundation for the moral order and constitutes the basis of the dignity of man created in God’s image.
3. “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times” (Ps 106:3).
Brothers and sisters, meditating on God’s love, revealed in the Heart of his Son, requires a consistent response on our part. We have not been called only to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s love, but take part in it. Christ says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).
He thus places before us a great calling and at the same time a condition: if you want to love me, keep my commandments, keep God’s holy law, walk in the ways God has shown you and I have shown you by the example of my life.
God’s will is that we keep the commandments, that is, the law of God given to Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses. Given to all people everywhere. We know the commandments. Many of you repeat them everyday in prayer. That is a very good and devout practice. Let us repeat them now, as they are found in the Book of Exodus, to confirm and renew what we remember:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife” (cf. Ex 20:2-17).
This is the foundation of the morality given to man by the Creator: the Decalogue, the ten commandments of God pronounced resolutely on Mount Sinai and confirmed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, in the context of the eight Beatitudes. The Creator, who at the same time is the supreme lawgiver, has inscribed on the human heart the whole order of truth. This order determines what is good, provides a foundation for the moral order and constitutes the basis of the dignity of man created in God’s image.
The commandments were given for the good of mankind, for man’s personal good and the good of family and society. They are truly the way for all people. The material order by itself is not enough. It must be completed and enriched by the supernatural order. Thanks to this, life takes on a new meaning and man is made better. Life, in fact, needs the power that comes from divine, supernatural values; only then does it take on its full splendour.
Christ confirmed this law of the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount he spoke clearly to his hearers: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5:17). Christ came to fulfill the law, above all to give it its proper content and meaning, and to show its full significance and depth: the law is perfect when it is pervaded by love of God and love of neighbor. It is love that determines man’s moral perfection and his likeness to God. “He who has my commandments and keeps them”, says Christ, “he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21).
Today’s liturgical celebration dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of God’s love, for which man yearns intensely. It shows us that the practical response to this love is the keeping of God’s commandments in our daily lives. God does not intend that they should grow dim in our memory but that they should remain forever impressed on people’s consciences so that, knowing and keeping the commandments, they “might have eternal life”.
Excerpts from Pope John Paul II address at Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus during his visit to Poland on June 6, 1999. HT: The Vatican