The Gospel and the First reading for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time involves the Shema. Shema means to hear and therefore to listen. Obey comes from the Latin form Ob Audio, which means to listen. Israel means to struggle with God and comes from Genesis 32:29.
The Name of God comes from Exodus 3:14, “God replied to Moses: I am who I am. This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”
As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. Mark 12:26-27 quoting Exodus 3:6
“God of the living is in the Hebrew construct case. He is also the living God. He is the God who brings life understood in its grandest sense.
Our word, “God,” comes from two places and means largely the same thing. God comes from the Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ),; perhaps from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (source also of Old Church Slavonic zovo “to call,” Sanskrit huta- “invoked.”
The root word for “God in Hebrew means to point. It is that which one points to as the entity which saved them from their enemies, who carried them to their goals. On the negative side, El is who we point to in cursing, blaming them for our failures.
“Listen, Israel.” This is not a simple allowing of sounds to enter our ears. It means meditation, contemplation. God addresses this with those who struggle with him, the scrub cattle of the earth who lead hard lives. It is for those who struggle to understand him and why their lives are the way they are.
The one who is who he is, in Hebrew tradition called The Name, Ha Shem, or Adonai, the leader, LORD, is the El in the plural/superlative sense. He is the one we point to, not the government, not our employer, not ourselves, nor our neighbors, or our spouse, or even our parents as children.
Some rabbis argue that “Other Gods,” is in the construct case so can be translated as the gods of others as in the gods who are others. If we come to Mass to be seen by others or do good works to be seen by others, they are our gods.
God is One. We can’t trust our one God or the Pantheon of Market, Militarism, and Money, the God of Mercury, Mars, and Moneto Juno. God is our ultimate goal and all else gets in the way.
“Love the one who is, the one you point to for salvation with all your hearts, with all your animate being, and with all your measure.” In the Hebrew Hearts is in the plural and your is in the singular. We all have multiple hearts, multiple inclinations. Hebrew speaks of the inclination to the satisfying and the rotten. Christians speak of having God’s image within us, his inclination within us, and Original Sin. Our mortal drives are not intrinsically evil, Freud would have us know; it is how we use them.
Hebrew for Father is Abba. The Hebrew for the one who comes the one we welcome into our lives is Ha Bah. The Hebrew word for love is A Ha Bah. The second section of Shema tells us to welcome into our lives the one who is, with all our hearts, with our good inclinations and our evil ones. If we have many faults, we struggle with God often. We are Israel! Hebrew also speaks of the Baal Teshuvah, the Master of Penance. We, like the younger son in the Prodigal Son story, know what it is like to err. We are better than the angels because we know and they do not. Following AAs Twelve Steps, we work to bring that salvation to others.
What is the difference between Nephesh, animate being, soul, and blood? Leviticus 17:11, and 14. “Since the life of the flesh/Bashar/Gospel is in the blood.” “The life of all flesh is its blood. I have told the Israelites: You shall not consume the blood of any flesh. Since the life of all flesh is its blood, anyone who consumes it shall be cut off.”
Every animal with blood in it has life, from conception to the grave. Blood is the only organ touching every other organ. Blood is also the only organ that moves. “Living Water,” is flowing, moving water. The more something moves, the more life it has. The more vibrant and vivacious something is, the more life it has. The more blood moves through the body, caused by a more rapidly beating heart, the more life it has. God is the God of life, wanting all to have the maximum of himself, Life.
If we measure who we are by our wealth, and Americans do, God calls us to love him with our wealth. If we pride ourselves on our strength and the strength of our military, God calls us to love him with that. If we are patriotic, God calls him to love him with our patriotism, to vote for life for all people.
So, what do we give someone who already literally already has everything? We respect what is his. God already owns everything. That means a real concern for our planet, for climate change, and the welfare of all that is around us. In particular, that means a real concern for Life. God is the God of Life, the Living God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:46 that as we treat the least of us we treat God. That means seeing the potentiality in all life and striving to help all people fulfill that potentiality. One is not more or less alive on either side of the vaginal tube. To vote for the lesser of two evils is to vote for evil.
A century ago, Pope Pius X whose picture is on our mural at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, called us to Catholic Action and that means working to have candidates who support Catholic Social Teaching. Having nobody to vote for is not an excuse. We have had a century to recruit the seventy plus thousand students graduating from Catholic Universities each year, develop them in the faith, fund their political campaigns, and get them elected. We clearly have not. What we really need is a synod to get ourselves started again so we can do the job. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his I Have a Dream Speech, “Now is the time for action.”