February 9, 2008

Mantra - Shema

I have a new mantra I'm saying daily.

I like sitting and imagining, often putting myself in other's shoes. Well in Jesus' sandals I've already posted during Advent about Jesus growing up knowing his genealogy. Jesus heard, probably asking Mary to tell him the stories over and over, of Tamrah or Rahab or Ruth or Bathsheba ... And women weren't usually listed in genealogies, but throughout the Gospels you see Jesus living out the results of those stories.

And I visualize Jesus growing up watching his mother every Friday evening lighting the Sabbath candles just before sundown, saying a blessing, as did every woman of every Jewish household every Friday evening. And too, like every other good Jew, Jesus said the Shema two times a day.

When asked by an expert in the law the most important commandment Jesus shaped his own version of the Shema. Typically Jews quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-9 two times a day. Jesus summarized it and added a verse from Leviticus 19:18. So instead of a Love-God Shema, Jesus made it a Love-God-and-Others Shema. Making loving others a part of his own version of the Jewish creed shows that he sees loving others as central to our spiritual formation.

So my new daily mantra or Shema is the Jesus Creed:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

So as I sit, walk by the way, lie down, and especially when I rise, I will say to myself Jesus' Shema. As Jesus said, "There is no commandment greater than this".

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