The daily prayer of all faithful people of the Jewish faith is the Shema: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength“. (Dt 6:4-5). The prayer takes its name from the first word “hear” or “listen” – and that simple word is deep and complex. In our translation, the last word is “strength” or in the Hebrew me’od. What is the true meaning of this word?
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The word “love” is certainly the topic of poetry, minstrels, Hallmark cards, stories, and life. But what do the Hebrew Scriptures have to say about love? Several weeks ago I mentioned the prayer, the Shema, speaking about the word “hear” or “listen”:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength“. (Dt 6:4-5).
But a key part of that prayer is to “love the Lord” to “ahavah the Lord.” As the popular song asks, “What’s love got to do with it.” The answer is everything – if love is properly understood.
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Today’s readings continue Micah’s challenge to the people of Jerusalem: “I remember the devotion of your youth.” There is something haunting about the phrase, hoisting up the image of our ventures, projects and endeavors that we begin with such enthusiasm, hope, and expectations. There is something inspiring about see a person years on that carries that same passion and hope for the now many years of efforts, the venture still ongoing. Continue reading
Over the last two weeks you might have noticed that when I have a chance to pause, contemplate and write, my thoughts have turned to the prophets. In part inspired by the daily Mass readings which have included Amos (last week), Hosea (this week just finishing), with the coming weeks bringing Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah. In all of the writings of these prophets you will come across passages in which the prophet lament/accuses the people about their inability/refusal to listen, to hear. It is easy to just assume that the the prophet is lamenting that they are ignoring him, but the lament is far more reaching in its scope. The prophets has no doubt that he has been heard – the scriptures testify to the persecution they suffer because of the words they have spoken. The auditory capability of the people is not in question. Continue reading