The Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is considered by the Jews as the most important prayer found in the Bible. The Jews from Old Testament times up to now would pray this prayer everyday usually in the morning and in the evening.
The Shema centers on the fundamental of the faith that states “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This means that there is only one God. This statement was revolutionary because people during that time and even today believe in many gods.
This fundamental tenet is followed by a command that states, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is the same command that Jesus answered when asked what is the greatest of all commandments.
What is interesting in the Shema is that the responsibility to share it with the next generation is given to the fathers in their respective families. In this Father’s Day, let us be reminded of the following responsibilities that are given to the fathers:
First, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts (v. 6).”
Fathers should first and foremost believe in God, and that their lives must be centered on loving God.
Second, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (vv. 7-9).”
Fathers should take up the responsibility of educating their children about God and His commandments. The Shema tells us that fathers must intentionally find the time to teach their children. It also gives us practical tips to put Bible verses inside our homes, and even in our gates. For Jews, they nail a Mezuzah (the first two paragraphs of the Shema are inside it) in a doorpost. They would touch it when they go out and come in. Indeed, putting Bible verses inside our homes is a great visible reminder for us.
Happy Father’s Day again to all fathers!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on