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The Manger and Commandment 1.5

刊登日期: 2014.03.02
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  


 Deuteronomy 5:8- 10. “You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.” 

Protestant churches follow this part of the Commandment and do not have statues or paintings in their churches. What about us? How come…… 

Consider these three other passages from the Bible: 

Exodus 25:10-22. This is God’s instruction to Moses on how to build the Ark of the Covenant. And in vs. 18- 20, we read, “Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the propitiatory, fastening them so that one cherub springs direct from each end. The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, covering the propitiatory with them; they shall be turned toward each other, but with their faces looking toward the propitiatory. This propitiatory you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the commandments which I will give you.” Here, God told Moses to have cherubim – angels – places on the top of the Ark. By God’s Command, the Ark of the Covenant in which the Tablets of the Commandments were kept has carvings of angels on top of it! (The movie Raiders of the Lost Ark did a very good job of building the Ark according to the Bible. By the way, many young people get confused between Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant. The word ark is simply a container, both used in boat as in Noah and cabinet as in Ark of the Covenant.) 

Numbers 21:4-9. This is the episode of the Jewish people complaining to Moses about having to wander in the desert. They would rather be in Egypt as slaves! God sent serpents to punish the Israelites for their ungratefulness. Then in vs. 8 God said to Moses, "Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.'' Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he recovered.” Did the bronze serpent have some kind of healing power that saved the people? To the Jewish people the seraph serpent is a symbol of the devil tempting Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. When they looked at the bronze serpent they acknowledged their sins before God. That was what healed them. 

In John 3:14- 15, Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so does the Son of Man have to be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Here, Jesus refers to His own crucifixion. To us Catholics, the Crucifix is a symbol of sin. We look at the Crucifix so that we realize how serious our sins are and how Jesus died, paid the price, for our sins. It is interesting how Protestant churches may have a cross without the “corpus”, the body of Jesus on the Cross. They would not violate the Commandment by having carved “idols”. But Jesus is not an idol. 

And, wait a minute. Many Protestant churches now have manger scenes decorated for Christmas! It is okay. Or is it not? 


I n t h e C a t e c h i s m ( 2 1 3 2 ) i t s a y s , “Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves……but tends toward that whose image it is.” We pray to Jesus and the saints, and not the statues. We know that and now you can explain it, from the Bible! 

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