Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Shema: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 6 with poem by Solomon ibn Gabirol, Thou Art One

Daily Readings
Psalm 78:40-72, Numbers 12, Deuteronomy 6:4-25, Matthew 11

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 6:4-25

The Shema
For observant Jews the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, (5-9), is the central structure of their faith. “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One.” In point of theology, it combined with 6:5, is perhaps the most profound and important revelation of the nature of God in all of Holy Scripture, including the Christian Testament.

The Christian Testament reinforces that the love of this One God is the first commandment and the second is Leviticus 19:18b, 34 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31). How Christians ever came up with an understanding of the nature of God which in any way could confuse and make troublesome this clear understanding of both Hebrew and Christian Testaments is a sad story driving wedges where there ought to be no wedges. An Hasidic wrote: “Three times the Torah asks us to love: twice, in Leviticus (19:18, 34), we are commanded to love human beings; then, in Deuteronomy, our love is directed toward God. Only after we have learned to love people can we come to love God” [185:1375]. Jesus seemed to emphasize them in reverse order, but the content is the same.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”

Thou Art One
Solomon ibn Gabirol

Thou art One, the beginning of all computation,
the base of all construction.
Thou art One, and in the mystery of Thy Oneness
the wise of heart are astonished,
for they know not what it is.
Thou art One, and Thy Oneness neither diminishes
nor increases, neither lacks nor exceeds.
Thou art One, but not as the one that is counted
or owned, for number and chance cannot
reach Thee, nor attribute, nor form.
Thou art One, but my mind is too feeble to set
Thee a law or a limit, and therefore I say:
“I will take heed to my ways,
that I sin not with my tongue.”
Thou art One, and Thou art exalted above
abasement and falling—not like a man,
who falls when he is alone.

Collect for the Day
God of pilgrims, strengthen our faith, we pray. Guide us through the uncertainties of our journey, and hold before us the vision of your eternal kingdom, made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:811:78 psalm prayer]


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