What About Shalom?

A reading for Thursday, August 20, 2015: Mark 12:28-34.

Having just broken with the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees, in today's lesson Jesus identifies himself clearly within the ancient practice of Judaism in citing the Shema. "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one." This is still the greatest commandment, says Jesus. Combined with "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus is faithful still to the way of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It's not the Jewish faith that Jesus condemns. There are parts of Christianity that have been antisemitic based on misunderstanding. Instead Jesus seems to hope for transformation, to see faith the God of Abraham lived in real, honest and hopeful ways. Since the beginning God has promised Shalom, the perfect peace and wholeness that all of creation longs for. To settle for anything less than that, and to use faith to manipulate for power and privilege is what needs transforming. Jesus still seeks Shalom, God's perfect peace.

It is the same with us. Our faith in God might need transformation too. There is still so much of our practice that is irrelevant, and ineffective towards God's Shalom. We do not have people's attention. We long for faith that is real, honest and hopeful. Transform us Jesus, in your mercy and with your power.

The greatest commandment is still the greatest hope for us.  As the scribe responded, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”


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