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Chapter 25. First Commandment: Believe in the True God • 343


God has given us the virtue of hope. Hope fills us with the confidence

that God accompanies us on our journey through life and guides us to

eternal life with him. If we refuse this gift of hope, we stray into pre-

sumption or its opposite, despair. In the sin of presumption, we think

we will be saved without any personal commitment to the moral life. In

the sin of despair, we lose hope in God’s mercy and believe we cannot

be saved.


Finally, God has given us the virtue of love, the very love that he has

for us. Our Lord asks us to accept this love and respond to him with it.

Jesus made the love of God the first of the two greatest Commandments:

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your

soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). We sin against this call to love

by indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness, spiritual sloth, and hatred of

God (cf. CCC, no. 2094).



The First Commandment prohibits idolatry, the worship of false gods.

In ancient times, people worshiped created things such as the sun, moon,

stars, trees, bulls, eagles, and serpents. In some cases, emperors and kings

were considered divine, and worship of them was expected.

Israel was forbidden to make images of God: Do not “degrade your-

selves by fashioning an idol to represent any figure” (Dt 4:16). This

injunction against “graven images” was based on the conviction that

God is greater and more mysterious than any artistic representation of

him. It also restrained Israel from carving idols like the pagans and laps-

ing into idolatry. But the people of Israel could make images that sym-

bolically pointed toward salvation by the Messiah, such as the bronze

serpent, the Ark of the Covenant, and the cherubim (cf. CCC, no. 2130).