Shema part II

Day 69

Prayer for the day

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; you are my crag and my stronghold.

Scripture for the day

Deuteronomy 13-15, Mark 12:28-44

In the Markan passage for today, Jesus tells a certain teacher of the law that the greatest commandment (and the second that is like it) is the Shema, that we should love the Lord our God with everything we have and are, and that we should care for our neighbour as we care for ourselves.

In giving this answer to the question, Jesus sets the law in its proper perspective. The law, according to Jesus, is not a way of oppression, but a way to live out the greatest command, to which all the law truly points.

The First Testament has a similar point as Moses outlines the law for the people. The first section delineates the punishment for leading anyone to worship another God. The worship of YHWH is so all-consuming and important that straying from YHWH to any other god is punishable by death through stoning. God recognizes how susceptible the people are to straying, and so gives them extremely sever punishments for what is the greatest sin: breaking the greatest commandment.

This commandment, and the second which is like it, is quite simply the easiest to break, and it happens all the time, even to the most enlightened of us. God has set out strict guidelines concerning who we ought to worship, and how, and yet we decide on such a regular basis to see how we fare following other gods, gods like success, power, celebrity, acclaim, gods like sex, beauty, and youth.

We are so susceptible to the lure of other gods that God gives us constant reminders in the scripture of the dangers and of the sever consequences. He gives us the scriptures, the Spirit, prayer, and the Church to ensure that we have safeguards in place. And still we falter.

Help us Lord to be a faithful people.

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