That Would be an Ecumenical Matter Part Two

Commandment Two: Do not take the Lord’s name in vain


The Irish Episcopal Conference uses the parable of Job (387-389) to explain the deeper meaning hidden in this commandment. Job is a faithful man tested by God. He loses his home and family and subsequently ponders over why a faithful man should suffer. God reveals himself as the creator and Job, recognising the mysteries of nature, asks for forgiveness. Similarly Jesus is tested (Luke, 4: 9-13) in the desert. The devil asks him to call for God’s angels to rescue him. Jesus declines because this is against the second commandment.

The second commandment, therefore, asks us to show ‘reverence’ (Irish Episcopal Conference, 389) to the creator and not to question suffering. Suffering is part of life, the learning curve of our journey on Earth and to overcome is to evolve and grow. Jesus advises those who are persecuted to endure suffering as ‘Your reward will be great in Heaven’ (Matthew, 5: 12). Equally the name of God cannot be used to justify war, terrorism or slaughter. This is particularly true of Christians whose sins, ‘Undermine the credibility of faith.’ (Irish Episcopal Conference, 392) The Catholic Church maintains that, ‘The name of God must never be used to support immoral acts.’ (Irish Episcopal Conference, 392).

Buddha identified suffering as an inevitable part of life and, as with the story of Job suffering cannot be escaped through bargaining instead it is escaped by breaking the cycle of karma. When Job accepts God’s will and adheres to the compassion and acceptance required by the moral laws he is rewarded. In the same way Buddhists believe that bad deeds attract bad karma or suffering. The only way to escape suffering is by acting with mindful-compassion. In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew, 13: 3-9) Jesus explains that the best crop comes from a rich soil, in short you reap what you sow; this is Jesus’ way of describing karma to the laymen.

Unpleasant deeds then having unpleasant consequences, as such Buddha suggested The Five Precepts advising followers to abstain from killing, adultery, stealing, slander and intoxicants (Gill, 21). Using just one of these precepts can demonstrate karma in today’s society. Through taking an intoxicant such as morphine the individual will rapidly becoming addicted. Their health will suffer and the desperation for drugs often results in stealing. This in turn causes another to suffer and the basic human instinct is likely to result in an unpleasant response such as arrest or assault. The perturbed user may then seek revenge and so the cycle begins and the suffering extends outwards, like a ripple at the centre of a pond.

The second Catholic-Buddhist truth could therefore be identified as recognition of the greatness of creation and a compassion for all beings in all circumstances.

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