Saturday, August 8, 2015

Shema Israel

In today's first reading we get the great refrain which God gives to the people through Moses

Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone ( or is One).

In our modern western world we take monotheism for granted. After all, the religions we are most familiar with believe in one God. We can loose sight of what a radical notion this was for its time. Even the great Greek and Roman empires were polytheistic, with temples to almost innumerable Gods. Humans were seen as often the victims of the struggles between the Gods. Some Christians still fall into this thinking when they envision Satan as God's equal but opposite. We must always remember that Satan is nothing more than one more of God's creatures, and a fallen one at that.

It is also worth our knowing something about the faith of our Jewish brothers and sisters. DT 6:8 commands

Bind them at your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.

In weekday morning prayer many Jews will still wear what are called tefillin in Hebrew or philacterion in Greek. A small cubical box with a leather strap one is bound to the upper arm and one to the forehead. Each contain a small scroll with the verse "Hear O Israel..."

While we may not recite the Shema on a daily basis. Perhaps today's reading invites us to look around our lives and see if we haven't collected some additional Gods. Certainly our smartphones are candidates. Do they control us or do we control them?