You hear it everywhere. Yesterday alone, I probably heard “Oh my God” uttered half a dozen times – from ladies in the grocery store, characters on a kids’ TV show, and even from a little boy on my son’s soccer team. Some ask, how have we gotten to the point where “OMG” is so commonplace a phrase? Others wonder, “What’s the big deal?” Well, IMHO, OMG is a big deal.
Now please understand, I am not without blame here. Nearly every time I go to reconciliation, I must confess to breaking the second commandment. Yet as the Lord draws me closer to himself, my love and respect for his name grows.
The second commandment states, “You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7*)
While some claim this commandment refers only to invoking God’s name when taking oaths, it also speaks to a simple lack of reverence for the Lord’s name. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this aspect of the second commandment in Paragraph 2143: “’The Lord’s name is holy.’ For this reason man must not abuse it. He must keep it in mind in silent, loving adoration. He will not introduce it into his own speech except to bless, praise, and glorify it.”**
“Well, I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just an expression; it just slipped out.” I would ask you to acknowledge the Catechism doesn’t say, “Man must not abuse it…unless he doesn’t really mean to.” The Catechism explains further, “Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes” (2144). When we casually use God’s name in an outburst of anger or surprise, does this show respect for the God of the universe – the Savior who shed his blood for you and me?
Jesus said, “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks…I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:34-36***). Friends, I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed of the careless words I have spoken. Yet, our Lord is merciful, and quick to forgive! We can go to him in the sacrament of reconciliation, be cleansed of our sins, and begin anew.
What can we do when we hear the Lord’s name abused?
We don’t have to sit idle, but can use the opportunity to counteract it with prayer. Try silently (or aloud, if you’re feeling bold) praying, “Blessed be the name of Jesus,” and turn it into an act of worship! Or use your creativity, like my friend Shaana. When one of her teenagers – or their friends – says “OMG,” she counters, “I can see you’re praying, so let’s bow our heads.” LOL!
Friends, join me in reconsidering – and redeeming – OMG.
**Catechism of the Catholic Church – Part Three, Life in Christ: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm
***Matthew 12:34-36, NABRE: