Day 57: Hear, O Israel

Numbers 6:1-21 The Nazirite vow was a temporary commitment to a life of ASCETICISM; the three marks of a Nazirite vow were the prohibition on cutting one’s hair, abstinence from alcohol, and avoidance of contact with corpses. St Paul is believed to have taken a Nazirite vow at least once (cf. Acts 18:18). The purpose of the vow was to renew oneself spiritually through a temporary consecration to God. The traditional vows for those entering the consecrated or religious life are POVERTY, CHASTITY, and OBEDIENCE. (CCC 2101-2103, 2687)

Ch 6:22-27 This passage is read at Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, which is celebrated on January 1.

Ch 6:26 Peace is not the mere absence of armed conflict but an interior harmony and integrity derived from a personal union with God and adherence to his will. (CCC 2304-2305)

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 These are the words of the Shema, perhaps the most recited and most beloved prayer of Judaism; it proclaimed the Oneness of God at a time when almost all other peoples embraced POLYTHEISM instead of MONOTHEISM. This led directly to the first of the Two Great Commandments reiterated by Christ: to Love God with ALL OUR MIND, SOUL, AND STRENGTH. The Commandments detail how love is to be expressed at the same time specify actions that are incompatible with love. The term “heart” refers not to emotions but to the disposition of the person. (CCC 201, 228, 2055, 2083-2084, 2133)

Ch 6:13-14 God’s First Commandment is that we acknowledge and accept him as the All-powerful and All-loving God who saved Israel from captivity in Egypt. As a matter of justice, we are also called to worship and love God; however, we are incapable of faithfully fulfilling this mandate to love God above all things without the grace that Christ merited on the Cross. Swear by his name: The Second Commandment prohibits false oaths. For a just and important reason, we may invoke God’s name as a witness to the truth we state. (CCC 2084, 2096, 2150)

Ch 6:16 Massah, or Meribah (cf. Ex 17:7), is one of the places where the Israelites grumbled against Moses and “tested” God. Though this rebellion showed a lack of trust in God’s loving providence, God would ALWAYS remain faithful to his Chosen People. This event is recounted in Psalm 95, prayed each morning in the Liturgy of the Hours. To tempt God is to doubt his love and providence and yet demand that he show his power, when Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, suggesting that he throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple and have the Father save him, Christ quoted this verse in reply (cf. Lk 4:9). (CCC 2219)

Psalm 91 Those who truly love and trust God should have no fear of the power of evil; this is summed up beautifully in verses 14-15. For he will give...against a stone: Satan quotes these lines as he tempted Christ to throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, suggesting that he would be protected from injury in a dramatic show of power. Christ NEVER performed signs simply to prove himself; neither did he perform actions to TEST GOD. Therefore, he scolded Satan for trying to “tempt the Lord your God” (Yes, even Satan has to answer to God) (Mt 4:7; cf. Lk 4:9-11). (CCC 336)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • In Numbers, this is the Nazirite Vow

  • You may be familiar with this

  • There are a couple of people in The Bible who took this vow for life

  • Can you guess?

  • SAMSON (whose parents chose it for him)

  • Sometimes, you know, the Nazirite life chooses you and you don’t choose the Nazirite life

  • Samson was set aside from his mother’s womb

  • The Angel of the Lord who appeared to his mother told him that he would be set apart, that he would not cut his hair that he would not drink alcohol (yeah, he failed in that regard)

  • The other person we know of who had a lifelong Nazirite Vow was…….can you guess?

  • Father Mike told you….

  • John the Baptist!

  • He successfully held to that vow

  • No cutting hair

  • No drinking alcohol or anything of the fruit of the vine

  • Normally, this vow was TEMPORARY

  • It was more akin to dedicating TIME of your life to the Lord

  • In Leviticus and Numbers, places were dedicated to the lord

  • Jacob who has the dream of angels going up to heaven and descending from heaven and he dedicates that place to the Lord

  • We have heard all about dedicating THINGS and SPACES to the Lord

  • A general analogy would be like how Christians go on a retreat and make a vow to not drink alcohol or cut their hair

  • At the end of that time, which is dedicated to worshipping God, the penitent would not only offer the sacrifices that were prescribed (animal, cereal, peace, etc) but also the hair that grew would be shaved off as a sign of the time consecrated to God

  • Growth is a marker of time

  • However long that time, whatever hair that grew was cut off and then placed on the Altar as a sacrifice

  • Burnt hair doesn’t smell so good

  • But hey, at least the imagery is cool

  • “Lord that whole time that I offered to you, that was yours as is represented here by the hair that is cut off of my head.”

  • That’s pretty cool

  • The priestly benediction is called the AARONIC BLESSING


  • Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord Bless thee and keep thee:

The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee:

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (I prefer thee to you in this prayer… not YOU, you)

  • This is a POWERFUL blessing

  • This is a wonderful blessing to pray over children


  • The Tribe of Levi, while being the “first born”, was also in some ways like a father

  • The priesthood was always related to fatherhood

  • And that is why the father’s blessing is built into the Aaronic Blessing

  • Deuteronomy today was an incredible gift

  • Shema means “to hear”

  • “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength”


  • If there is any one commandment that united the people of Israel, even including the Ten Commandments, and even including the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant, THIS IS THE ONE

  • The Shema sums EVERYTHING up

  • Shema means HEAR AND OBEY


  • Here are the people of Israel that Moses is speaking to

  • Moses has given them the Ten Commandments (from God, obviously)

  • Moses will continue with other laws too

  • But this Shema is the HEART OF ALL THE LAWS

  • Why does Moses bring this up?

  • Moses knows that they came from Egypt WHERE THERE WERE MULTIPLE GODS

  • Moses knows that they are going into Canaan WHERE THERE ARE MULTIPLE GODS


  • How are they going to be on guard against polytheism?

  • It’s not just simply saying what you believe

  • It is REMEMBERING that God, THE ONE GOD, is the one who brought them out of slavery

  • The Israelites need to remind their children of all that THE ONE TRUE GOD did for them

  • That is why we obey these commandments

  • All the rules come out of a relationship


  • Without relationship, the rules may be fine and wise and good to live by

  • But they are hollow, empty, or even dead without that relationship with God

  • They are empty of the reason

  • The reason for the rules is the relationship with God

  • Take these words and bind them on your forehead

  • Take these words and bind them on your arm

  • Take these words and put them on the lintels of the doorposts in your home

  • Mezuzah is a metal receptacle that contains these words of the Lord are written on a tiny piece of paper

  • Every time a Jewish person walks in or out of the house they touch the Mezuzah as a REMINDER TO NEVER FORGET WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE

  • This is also called the Phylactery, which in Hebrew is called TEFILLIN

  • The Hebrew word for the tassels is tzitzit

  • The Pharisees would widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels

  • Fun things to know

  • The Phylacteries were made out of leather

  • Leather boxes with leather straps

  • Orthodox Jews still use these

  • The leather box contained scripture verses

  • The leather straps fasten them to their arms or forearms or foreheads

  • This is the fulfillment of what was written in Ex 13, Deut 6, and Deut 11

  • The words of God must always be on our minds and on our arms

  • Have you ever been to a Catholic Mass? Anyone?

  • When the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel, what do we Catholics do?

  • The priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the words of the text and then on himself

  • We make the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads, on our lips, and on our hearts

  • What we are saying internally is, “May the Word of the Lord be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart”

  • This is a spiritual way of having that idea of keeping the Word of God on our foreheads, and on our arms BEFORE US ALWAYS

  • DID YOU KNOW THIS? WHY WASN’T I TOLD? Sorry, Sister Regina Eileen :( (She was one of my Catholic School Teachers and boy was she strict!)

  • We are keeping the Bible in our ears now

  • We are not forgetting what the Lord our God has done for the Jewish People

  • We are not forgetting what the Lord our God has done in the New Covenant for the people of the world

  • We are also remembering what the Lord our God has DONE FOR US

  • By listening to God’s Word, we are obeying the commandment of Deuteronomy Ch 6



  • Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One and you shall love Him with EVERYTHING YOU GOT :)

  • Keep praying for each other

  • You all are doing so so well

  • We are moving and God is blessing so many of us

  • Even if you miss a day or a weekend or a week, get back on the horse

  • You don’t need to catch up to where we are right now

  • Just go at your pace and don’t stop



Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, you are good. And you do protect us. You do care for us. You bear us up as on the wings of eagles. And you bear us up lest we dash our foot against the stone. Lord God, we do not put you to the test because we are tested every day. Every day we are tried and every day life reveals the truth of our hearts. It reveals our fickle hearts. It reveals our shaky and quick-to-forget hearts. Lord, help us to never forget what you have done for us. Help us to never forget who you are. Help us to never forget what you have revealed about our own hearts. Help us to never forget you, Lord God. We make this prayer in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”