Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
Hear O Israel, The LORD is our God, the Lord is One.
So begins the prayer that every Jew prays before going to sleep at the end of the day.
Believe in One God
The Shema holds a central place in both Jewish and Christian Scriptures, declaring that there is One God, and that we are called to love and serve God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
At its core, the Shema affirms the belief in the oneness of God, an essential tenet of both Judaism and Christianity. For us Catholics, this proclamation aligns with our understanding of the Holy Trinity, confirming that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in a consubstantial relationship.
Keep His Commandments
The command then is that this love is not an emotion but a profound commitment by acknowledging that true love of God is expressed through obedience to His commandments. Moses instructs the people to keep God’s words in their hearts and to teach them diligently to their children. This highlights the importance of passing down the faith to future generations and since we cannot give what we do not ourselves possess, we must live out God’s commandments in our own daily lives. Jesus commands us accordingly to do just that, in Mt 19:16-19. (CCC 2052).
The Shema implicitly cautions against idolatry and the pursuit of false gods. In our modern context, idolatry manifests in various forms, such as a disordered pursuit of material possessions, power, or even fame. As Catholics, we are called to discern and eliminate anything that competes with our dedication to God. This is a continual struggle, as the distractions of the world can easily lead us astray from our faith journey.
Remember God Especially When Things Are Going Well
Moses warns “take care not to forget the LORD” in times of prosperity and abundance.” (Dt 6:12). How easily this can happen when things are going well, and we are successful in our pursuits. The wealth of the world can make a person forget God or call on His name by habit rather than out of love. The antidote to such forgetfulness is a spirit of gratitude. We are called to be thankful in all things, recognizing that every blessing comes from God. Gratitude is a vehicle for deepening our relationship with God because it fosters humility, reminding us that we are dependent on Him for everything.
Love Your Neighbor as Well
So, let’s encourage one another to make God the center of our relationships with each other following God’s commandments faithfully. Through obedience, gratitude, and steadfast devotion, we bear witness to God’s love and draw others to experience the transformative power of His presence in their own lives.
Authentic faith makes us beacons of God’s light, illuminating the path for others, as well as our own, to encounter His unfailing love and mercy. May we, therefore, also follow Jesus ’affirmation of the need to love one another as we love ourselves. (Lev 19:18 and Mt 22:39).