The Law of Israel

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A careful reading of the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, reveals that Israelite identity was determined through three sets of laws: liturgical, ritual, and moral. In Catholicism, the liturgical laws have been sublimated and the ritual laws largely set aside. But what about the moral law? In this case, Thomas Aquinas says, they remain unchanged, for they represent the first principles of the natural law—which is to say, those fundamental instincts that undergird all moral reasoning. In our first reading this week from Exodus, we hear wonderful precepts that continue to this day to shape the moral consciousness of the world.

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