Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an amblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
We often say these words in the Eucharist (Communion Service) on a Sunday, and they have come to be known as the 'Great Commandment'. For Jews they are called the Shema from its opening word 'Listen' which is translated as Shema. Jesus also uses them to answer a scribe in Mark.12.28-30 and adds that he should love his neighbour as himself.
The word 'Listen' sounds as though we should just open our eyes or turn up the hearing aid, perhaps. But it means more than this. 'Listen' asks us to think and internalise what we are hearing or reading - to really take on board that we should love God with our heart, soul and might. When we love someone with our heart we put all our emotions into that relationship, we think about them, we listen to them, and we want to be with them. When we love someone with our soul, we seek to copy them and understand them. When we love them with all our might, we want to tell others about them, and to do all we can to protect their life and their image with every fibre of our being. This is how we should love God!
teach us how to love You,
with our heart,
with our soul
and with all our might.
Write it on our hearts
and let us never forget
all that You mean to us.
You might like to read more (in word and cartoon) about the Shema in this Christian project to lern more: