My name in front of God

Each of us identifies ourselves with our names, and we feel noticed when others use it. Having a name and attaching it to our identity is a sign that we see ourselves as singular persons, not just individuals in a species: each of us has a unique origin, a past, and through our free actions, we are writing our personal stories. All of this makes us unique.

From the faith in God, we uphold that God has a singular love for each person, and all our dignity lies in that love. God calls each person by their name, as our Lord says of the good shepherd (Jn 10). And in eternal life, we will truly know who we are when we receive the “new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rev 2).

This leads us to think about the close relationship between names and persons – both our names and the name of God. Treating God's name well means entering into that relationship of trust where each one needs and expects to be treated with a singular love.

Bless, do not curse

This commandment invites us to treat God as a good and provident Father – as He is. The way we treat someone has to do with how we refer to that person, how we call them and mention them. The conviction that God is the true Father and that everything that comes from Him is good is a truth of faith that is lived when we always treat God well.

So we should always refer to God in good terms. We could summarize this commandment by saying that no matter what happens to us, we should always bless and never curse. In common language, “cursing” means to speak with bitterness to the detriment of someone, denigrating them. If we truly love God and believe in his goodness, we must seek another way to release our anger or frustration, avoiding unloading it against Him for the bad things that happen to us; moreover, we must seek reason and hope to overcome these annoyances in his name.

For this reason, the invitation to bless is directed at using our words to praise God, give thanks, ask, or converse amicably with God. And the invitation not to curse aims to avoid blasphemy, which is an insult uttered against God, the Church, the saints, etc., which constitutes a grave sin. False swearing or perjury is also prohibited, because of the falsehood that action entails. Swearing before a court of justice, assuming public office, etc. (for a weighty cause, in other words), isn’t an offense against this commandment.