A Message from Mt. Sinai  and Pope John Paul II


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On Mount Sinai, the truth of "who God is" became the foundation and guarantee of the Covenant. Moses enters "the luminous darkness", and there he is given the Law "written with the finger of God" (Ex 31: 18).

           But what is this Law? It is the Law of life and freedom ! At the Red Sea, the people had experienced a great liberation. They had seen the power and fidelity of God; they had discovered that he is the God who does indeed set his people free as he had promised. But now on the heights of Sinai, this same God seals his love by making the Covenant that he will never renounce. If the people obey his Law, they will know freedom for ever. The Exodus and the Covenant are not just events of the past; they are for ever the destiny of all God's people!

The encounter of God and Moses on Mount Sinai enshrines at the heart of our religion the mystery of liberating obedience, which finds its fulfillment in the perfect obedience of Christ in the Incarnation and on the Cross. We too shall be truly free if we learn to obey Jesus did.

The Ten Commandments are not an arbitrary imposition of a tyrannical Lord. They were written in stone; but before that, they were written on the human heart as the universal moral law, valid in every time and place. Today as always, the Ten Words of the Law provide the only true basis for the lives of individuals, societies and nations. Today as always, they are the only future of the human family. They save man from the destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that draw him into slavery: the love of self to the exclusion of God, the greed for power and pleasure that overturns the order of justice and degrades our human dignity and that of our neighbor.

If we turn from these false idols and follow the God who sets his people free and remains always with them, then we shall emerge like Moses, after 40 days on the mountain, "shining with glory", ablaze with the light of God

         To keep the Commandments is to be faithful to God, but it is also to be faithful to ourselves, to our true nature and our deepest aspirations. The wind which still today blows from Sinai reminds us that God wants to be honored in and through the growth of his creatures: Gloria Dei, homo vivens. In this sense, that wind carries an insistent invitation to dialogue between the followers of the great monotheistic religions in their service of the human family. It suggests that in God we can find the point of our encounter: in God the All Powerful and All Merciful, Creator of the universe and Lord of history, who at the end of our earthly existence will judge us with perfect justice.

Condensed from L’Osservatore Romano, 21 February 2000, at www.vatican.va


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