Friday of the Third Week of Lent

"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, 
with all your mind, 
and with all your strength.

Biblical scholars often point  to the first word of Jesus' teaching: "Hear." Before I know anything about God I must hear what is said to me. 
Sometimes, in an argument, one party will say, "You're not listening to me." He may be right in his complaint, but he may be expecting his adversary to agree with him. 

True listening neither agrees nor disagrees. Listening does not strain words, opinions and ideas through the filter of agree/disagree. To do so is to disrespect the other. It's easy to sit around with one's cronies and agree with their opinions about politics or religion, because you don't have to listen to them. You already know what they're saying. You can sit with them for hours, and they with you, and no one hears or learns anything because nothing has happened among you. 
It's more difficult to sit down with one's enemies and disagree with them. But that's not listening either. Nothing good comes of that. 

So Jesus' first word is "Hear!" He may have to use the proverbial two-by-four and a hard smack between the ears to get out attention but it's much easier if we just sit up and listen. 
"The Lord our God is Lord alone!" 
This is not simply a teaching about the unicity or univocity of God, as fascinating as that may be. Rather, it's a decree about God's rightful authority. There is no saving God but our God. There is no other God with a rightful claim to our worship, fidelity, love and obedience. No other God makes promises which we must accept as worthy of all our hope. (Therefore, it follows that)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, 
with all your mind, 
and with all your strength.
If my first response to that command is, "But I can't do it" I have already stopped listening. I have already let my agree/disagree filter come between me and the word.  

Rather, my response must be "Yes!" -- or better "Here I am!" -- or best, "Rabboni!" 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.