The Word of God is on the mop
Biblical text: Dt 6.1-25
I invite you to meditate tonight in the book of Deuteronomy, one of the first mandates of transmission given to Moses: the 10 commandments have just been communicated to him and he continues by inviting the people to put them into practice and to obey them. "They are for you, for your children and for their descendants," he says. These are words of blessings:
This text begins by saying that "The Lord is one"! The affirmation is fundamental and contrasts with the multiplicity of surrounding gods and those around us today. The God of Israel is unique. He is not only unique but worthy to be loved in all possible ways: with the heart, with the soul and with the strength. Jesus himself repeated these words and called them "the greatest commandment". For him, loving God with all his heart, soul, strength and spirit is inseparable from the love of his neighbor (Mt 22: 36-40). This love that goes in both directions can not be partial. It is total and involves all aspects of human life.
"These words that I give you today will be in your heart"
The words of the Lord are called to dwell in us. They are not there naturally and it is the process of a whole life to welcome them inside. When we convert, we give our life to God and we choose him as Lord and Savior. Yet, we quickly realize how much we can be invaded by other words. Day after day, as Christians, we move on the path of faith by sorting out the words of God, ours and those of this world. We seek to refocus our lives on Jesus, his kingdom and his righteousness.
The word of God, and this is clear from the book of Deuteronomy and throughout the Bible, is called to go beyond mere external knowledge. To know that one must love God with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his strength does not change anything. Having the right Sunday school answer does not change anything.
What God asks in this text and in all the following is that his word migrates from our heads to our lives so that all our way of seeing life is transformed. Knowledge can not be external knowledge and faith can not be a mere emotional experience. But faith and knowledge are put into action in our lives as a result of Jesus. It's done in 1001 ways and God uses everything we are: our heart, our soul, our spirit and our strength.
When the word of God kneads our lives in this way, it is inevitably transmitted. It becomes inseparable from what we are in the depths of our lives. It influences our choices and orientations, it influences our eyes and the total direction of our lives.
But, one could ask, if it sees itself, why verbalize it? Is not it obvious? The text continues: "You will inculcate these words to your sons and your daughters and you will speak about them when you are in your house. You'll talk about it when you go on a trip ... And when you go to bed. And when you get up. "
When is it necessary to speak of the words of the Lord according to this text? All the time or maybe we should say when it's okay, as long as it lends itself regularly and naturally.
When children have questions, when they live special circumstances. In the daily routine. The words of God can not be confined to a Sunday book or school room. Indeed, the word makes it possible to give meaning to what the children observe. It makes it possible to formulate a hope and connect it to God himself and what he has done for us.
The children will not remember all our good answers, what they will look at is the coherence between what we formulate and what we experience. They will remember our passion or lukewarmness for the gospel. They will not find perfect examples among us because they do not exist, but pray that they find among us, the people of God, men and women for whom this commandment to love God with all his being and his neighbor as himself - has become the center of life.
ē Pray that they will find adults along the way following Christ, with their strengths and weaknesses, but in humility and truth.
ē Pray that they will find adults ready to be challenged and transformed by God on their way.
ē Finally, pray that they will meet adults who care enough for them to help them grow in Christ.
Everyone, parent, neighbor, family or friend, has a role to play in the transmission to the next generation. We have met people who have marked our lives by their witness and their commitment, let us pray that it is the same for them.
This text of Deuteronomy invites us to live our faith in every corner of our lives and to talk to children and the next generation. We may not be used to talking about our faith, but this text invites us to try the experiment. This can be done in a very simple way in simple moments. No need for great speeches or great knowledge. Let us take these trivial moments of everyday life to simply say who God is for us and what it changes in our lives.
The text continues "You will bind them as a sign on your hand". The hand is the tool with which we do everything, which glorifies God and what does not glorify him. It symbolizes the acts that made up our days. If the words of the Lord and the invitation to love him are attached to our hand, we can not fail to see them. Imagine that the Lord's law, that of loving God and loving one's neighbor, is printed on our hands, would we live exactly the same? Maybe we would think twice before doing a few things ... Maybe we would use our hands more to do good.
The text also says, "They will be like a forehead between your eyes," which means that they will guide our lives and that everyone will be able to see the words of God by looking at us. What do others see when they look at us - do they see "the love we have for one another" (Jn 13:35)? Do they see how the words of the Lord direct us?
And if it were not enough to see them every time you look at yourself or others look at you, "you will write them on the posts of your house and on your doors. So that every time you come in or come out of your house, you can not move on without seeing them.
In this text, the word of God is called to be everywhere. Impossible to miss ! She is on our hands, on our foreheads, on our doors and the amounts of our houses. If so, the word of God becomes omnipresent and reminds us at all times. She directs our whole life.
Judaism took these commandments to the letter and that is why we see Jews with philactŤres, these small leather boxes on the forehead during the daily prayer. It is also for this reason that mezuzas are fixed on the amounts of their doors. How to make the words of the Lord revealed in the Bible present for us as Christians? I believe that there is material to be creative! Even today, the moments evoked in this text are particularly precious for transmitting the words of the Bible and the presence of God to children:
"You'll talk about it when you're in your house"
The house is the familiar place where we have our bearings. It is a good place to build one's dependence on God. The moments of the meals are moments when good conversations can be born. The moment of prayer before the meal is a time when we express gratitude to God together. When children are growing up and we have used the glasses spoiled during the whole meal, it often gives rise to good conversations about God, the Church, what happens in the society or school. What place do we give to the biblical text in our house? Perhaps we have a verse written somewhere that is subject to conversation. Another possibility is to read one or a few verses together before the meal. These readings often feed conversations.
It's a good time to talk about our hope, Jesus and the kingdom of God in connection with our daily lives.
"You'll talk about it when you're on a trip"
Sometimes it is necessary to leave the family cocoon to extract and meet God and read the Bible differently as part of a hike, training or opening to the world in various forms. We often have conversations very different from those we usually have. The unusual comes to break the routine and new questions arise. When we form to better understand the Bible, our gaze changes and we better understand what God is doing in this world. Traveling by car, where we do not look at each other's eyes, lets everyone have the pleasure of sailing in his thoughts and sometimes to open a little more intimate about what he saw or lived with God ; on the texts that touched him, on the questions that challenge him. In addition, trips often allow meetings that come to challenge or even upset our certainties and put us on the road. Many young people testify to the importance of the camps in their journey. The journey is a good time to grow in his knowledge of God.
"When you go to bed"
Bedtime is also a time apart. The moment when it is time to indulge in sleep, where we rehash the day and where the fear of the next day surfaced. It's a good time to talk about the Lord and what He does; to read a biblical text together, to pray with confidence and to put everything in his hands.
My 9 year old son says that prayer with both parents are the two keys without which he can not fall asleep. Even when we are far away, he calls us so that we can pray together. This will surely change someday, but we hope he will remember that the relationship with God is the place where everything can be deposited and expressed.
Getting up is often less meditative, but it's an opportunity to renew your confidence for the day ahead and the challenges ahead.
God loves us and knows everything about us. This love is not just a good feeling from heaven. No, God became incarnate. "God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jn 3.16) The love of God, tangible and acting for humans, is revealed to us in the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. This love requires an answer. We are very small to offer anything in response but this text of Deuteronomy and Jesus Himself invites us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Of all our life. Then we will communicate it to the next generation.
God guides us with his Spirit, but we need the Bible to know if we are on the right track. By reading it, studying it and meditating it, it directs us, it is like a forehead between our eyes, a light on our path (Ps 119.105
"To love God and to love his neighbor as himself" (Lk 10.27). So simple and so complex at the same time. Reading and Bible study challenges us when we forget God and other things take up too much space in our lives. The word of God read regularly, comes to meet us within our imperfections, our conflicts, our sin and our idolatry. What the Bible teaches is not an end in itself, and biblical knowledge can be an idol itself. But the Bible challenges us on our path, it aims to make us always more like the one who is the center, Jesus.
ē Sometimes what we read in the Bible encourages us. Through it, the Spirit motivates us and urges us to go forward to live more fully the project of God. In meditation we sometimes realize that there is a window where we thought there was only one wall. Our strengths are renewed, our lives are refocused and we rediscover the desire to live for God.
ē Sometimes the Bible questions us and takes us back. It emphasizes the discrepancies between God's plan and our human lives and puts us back to our rightful place in the face of God and our neighbor. It questions our choices, our priorities, the orientations of our heart.
God continues to trust us as he trusted the people of Israel. He calls us to obedience, love and transmission. His project does not depend on circumstances. What he started at Genesis, he will finish at the return of Christ in glory.
He will accomplish it despite our flaws and rebellions. God guides his people. Today and tomorrow.
God, through his Spirit and through his Word, the Bible, speaks to us when we are in our homes, when we are traveling, when we go to bed and when we get up. We can go forward with confidence and be assured that the one who is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, will do his work in us and will accompany us following Christ in the project of transmitting the good news of the world. love of the Lord.