Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obedience and the Shema Yisrael

Thanks to Suzanne for bringing in the Hebrew. One of the priests at my parish last week preached on Jesus's allusion to the Shema in the Gospel of Matthew.

Mt 22:34-40 (NAB)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

And here is what the Shema says:

"Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
(Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever). And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them. When you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart."

Fr. Giussani has a way of mentioning significant details in an offhand way, and it's only during the Assembly that somebody presses on and gets to the importance of the details. And here's what Don Gius says about his friends, Manfredini and DePonti:

"Why did I become such a great friend of Manfredini and DePonti, whom I was always with? From third year of high school to fourth year of theology we were always together — always — I mean always! — and nobody ever said anything because the great reason that we were together was so evident to everyone. In fact, anyone who showed up, at any moment of the day or week, would have heard us speaking about certain things, so much so that a lot of people said, 'Oh brother, not those guys again! and they left. The same people who left other things! Why did we, who didn't even know each other, become such close friends? Because we began to intuit and to speak about certain things, things apart from which life was not worth living. This was the depth that God gave us the grace to have at thirteen or fourteen years old: to understand that apart from certain things, in other words, from Christ, life was not worth living in the literal sense of the term. (Is it Possible? Vol 1, p150).

To hear, shema, is to listen, to ponder, to speak of at all times and strive to understand and internalize it more. To set up reminders on one's head (thoughts) and on one's hand (action), at the doorpost and gate (the transition between house and world). Or as Fr. Carrón said in La Thuile in August, "Testimony doesn't mean words, but an experience perceived, penetrated, lived, felt, inevitable, inexorable, superabundantly evident."


Dcn Scott Dodge said...

I find myself in the rare position of being prescient: I preached on the sh'ma last week and I framed what I had to say on the basis of the third part of of volume one of Is It Possible?

Year A 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fred said...

Very cool! Um, I guess I would have known this if I had read your homily - I've been kind of plowed under the last couple of weeks...

MaryH said...

Super cool stuff...
and... did you know that "testament" means "covenant"?
it also means law or witness... all having to do with relationship.

Dcn Scott Dodge said...

"that 'testament' means "covenant"?
it also means law or witness... all having to do with relationship."

All reasons why I don't like the term Old Testament.

Fred said...

but once upon a time old witnesses were deemed more reliable than young ones... ;)

Dcn Scott Dodge said...