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The Mezuzah of which Father Kunst Speaks in His Refelction
Getting Swindled Stinks; Don’t Do It to God
Father Richard Kunst
When I was a young kid, for several summers I caddied at a local country club. It was a pretty inefficient use of time, because I would have to ride my bike for about five miles each way, and then there were many days I would just hang out in the caddy shack with a bunch of other kids waiting for hours to get my turn, so I could make a few bucks. Over the years, I must have caddied hundreds of times, and for all those times only one experience really sticks in my mind.
There were three grades of caddy; B, A, and AA. B caddies were the beginners, and they had the lowest pay grade. A was if you had some experience but were not a pro. If you were a caddy long enough, and you got good reviews from the golfers you would reach AA status, and then you were making serious bucks.
For most of my years down at the club I was simply an A caddy, not bad but not great. The one time I remember so clearly was when I was an average “A” caddy. I was carrying the clubs for a member who was golfing with a few of her friends. At the end of the round, I was fully expecting $10-$12, which was typical pay at the time, but instead she gave me only $6.
I remember this clearly because I felt so cheated! I had ridden my bike five miles one way, spent several hours waiting in the caddy shack to be called, and then four or five hours carrying her golf clubs, all to be paid six bucks! I knew there was nothing I could do, because I was a snot-nosed kid without any standing at the country club compared to one of the members; it was a feeling of helplessness.
Poetically, later in life I became this woman’s pastor, and I am happy to say I never once brought it up to her, and now she is with God, so I will never be able to get the $4 I figured I deserved. It is crazy to think that this is the one experience caddying I remember best, and it was because I was cheated.
There is an inherent injustice we feel when we think we are getting denied what we’re due. We feel it, and it does not feel good. Six dollars for 18 holes, even in the 1980s, was just not right.
Famed Rabbi Abraham Heschel once wrote, “Everything we own, we owe.” That concept is loud and clear in the Jewish prayer known as “The Shema.” In the 12th chapter of Mark’s Gospel a scribe questions Jesus as to what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replied: “This is the first: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’” (29-30). Jesus gives the Shema (a Hebrew term meaning “hear”) as the greatest command. Found in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, the Shema has always been the centerpiece and the most essential prayer in all Judaism. In fact, an orthodox Jew will say this prayer several times a day and even has it posted in what is called a Mezuzah on the threshold of their doors.
Take your time and re-read this prayer and notice the breathtaking nature of the command. Because God made us and everything around us, we owe him everything; all our heart, all our mind, all our strength. Everything we own, we owe! Anything less, and we are denying God his due. I got cheated four bucks after a full day’s work back in the 1980s, and I never have forgotten it. What are we cheating God?
Now, to be fair, we are not all called to be Carthusian monks praying in our cells 23 hours a day, but that is not what God is expecting of us, unless we really are called to that extraordinary vocation. But he is expecting a lot of us (read the Shema again), not to a level where we compromise our vocations as parents or spouses, but still, God does not want to be robbed of his due.
How much of our daily time do we spend praying? Maybe right before bed or the occasional meal prayer when we think of it? Does that match what God expects of us? Does our financial support for our parish or our volunteer time match anywhere close to what the Shema says? Again, we are not called to be Carthusian monks, but chances are we are called to more than what we are giving.
The bigger tragedy from my perspective is all the people out there (some in my own family) who don’t seem to give a second’s thought to God. Studies have shown a steep decline of faith among Americans in recent years. Trends like that never end well for a nation or for individuals. In the Old Testament God repeatedly refers to himself as a jealous God. He did not want his chosen people to start ignoring him to worship some other god, and he still doesn’t want us to ignore him. Do we give him his due?
Pray for your loved ones who don’t pay God any attention in their daily lives, because they need the prayers. Then pray the Shema again.
—-Father Richard Kunst
The Great Commandment
Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9
4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
5 Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.
6 Take to heart these words which I command you today.
7 Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.
8 Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
9 Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
The following reflection from (now) St. Pope John Paul II includes the words, “Sh’ma Yisrael (Shema Israel) in the midst of a teaching the late Pope gave in 1995 during Lent. We’ve included it with this post because the topic of Father Kunst’s message is to examine particularly our prayer lives and to ask ourselves to what degree of generosity we are giving to God, to whom we owe everything.
We hear the Pope sing the Pater Noster, too. May his prayers help us to begin a prayer of our own.
St. John Paul II, pray for us!
On March 22, 1995, at Saint Peter’s Basilica, as part of the Lenten liturgy, Pope John Paul II spoke the following words and followed them by singing the Pater Noster. While only one of many times, this one expresses his voice and song before age and infirmity made it more difficult for him to speak. The voice of the now canonized saint provides a moment of prayerful reflection and meditation.
St. John Paul, Intercede for Us!
Here is a translation of the YouTube:
NOTE: Shema Yisrael (Shema Israel or Sh’ma Yisrael; Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל; “Hear, O Israel”) is a Jewish prayer, and is also the first two words of a section of the Torah, and is the title (better known as The Shema) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services.
Turn to us with Mercy, Lord; we have sinned against you. Lenten liturgy
You did not received a spirit of slavery,/but you have received a spirit of adoption.
enabling us to cry out, “Abba Father.” Roman 8:15
“You are my son, today I have begotten you.: Psalm 2:7
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. 2 Samuel 7: 14
These are prophetic words. They speak of God, who is the Father in the highest and most authentic sense of the word.
Isaiah says: “Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me. ” Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forsake you. Isaiah 49: 14-15
It is significant that in the passages from the prophet Isaiah the paternity of God is filled with images inspired by maternity. Jesus refers again and again to the paternity of God in regard to mankind by alluding to numerous passages contained in the Old Testament.
For Jesus, God is not only the Father of Israel and the Father of mankind, but also his Father and my Father.
(And what follows is the Our Father sung in Latin by Pope John Paul II.)
Attende, Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.
Non enim accepistis spiritum servitutis
sed accepistis spiritum adoptionis filiorum
in quo clamamus: Abb Pater.
Tu sei mio figlio, io oggi ti ho generato.
Io gli sar Padre ed Egli mi sar Figlio.
2 Sam 7,14
Sono parole profetiche: esse parlano di Dio, che Padre nel senso
pi alto e pi autentico della parola. Dice Isaia: “Signore, tu sei nostro Padre: noi siamo argilla e tu Colui
che ci d forma; tutti noi siamo opera delle tue mani”.
Sion ha detto: “Il Signore mi ha abbandonato, il Signore mi ha
dimenticato”. Si dimentica forse una donna del suo bambino? Anche se ci fosse una donna che si dimenticasse, io invece
non ti abbandoner mai.
significativo che nei brani del profeta Isaia la paternit di Dio si
arricchisca di connotazioni che si ispirano alla maternit.
Ges annuncia molte volte la paternit di Dio nei riguardi degli uomini
riallacciandosi alle numerose espressioni contenute nell’Antico Testamento.
Per Ges, Dio non solamente il Padre d’Israele, il Padre degli
uomini, ma il Padre suo, il Padre mio.
Udienza generale, Citt del Vaticano, 16 ottobre 1985
Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostri,
et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo.
San Pietro, Roma, 22 marzo 1995