Friday, March 24, 2017

Lent - Spiritual Training

Image result for Shema Israel
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.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Today our Gospel from Saint Mark explains how we train ourselves in godliness?

He tells us what we need to do first.

Jesus recites the training mantra of the Shema. As an observant Jew, Jesus recited this combination of confession and prayer to God twice a day. Both during his morning and evening prayers. While sticking to this twice-daily ritual was itself a training regime, it is the message of the Shema that Jesus embodied so perfectly and which offers all of us a way toward complete and genuine godliness.

The Shema builds up the heart, soul, mind and strength. No element of human existence is excluded from this training in faith. The exercises of the Shema allow no parts of our being to remain flabby or unattended.

-- Does love of God overwhelm and overcome your heart, making every heartbeat keep pace with God's love for you?

-- Does love of God inform your mind, making love the mainspring of all your thoughts?

-- Does love of God penetrate your soul, making your every prayer a plea not for yourself and your own desires, but an offering formed and normed by love?

-- Does love of God flow through the strength of your body, making your every step a step toward love in action?