The tender mercy of God (Lk 1:78-1:78)

“By the tender mercy

Of our God,

The dawn

From on high

Will break

Upon us.”

 

διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους,

 

Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an insistence on the mercy of their God.  Zechariah said that by the heart felt tender mercy and compassion of their God (διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους Θεοῦ ἡμῶν), a new day or a sunrise (ἀνατολὴ) from on high (ἐξ ὕψους) would break out upon them or visit them (ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς).  As many of the prophets had pointed out already. the messiah or savior would come like a sunrise to break into their lives.  So too, John, his son, would be part of this process that would culminate in Jesus.

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The first commandment (Mk 12:29-12:30)

“Jesus answered.

‘The first commandment is.

‘Hear this!

O Israel!

The Lord Our God!

The Lord is one!

You shall love

The Lord

Your God

With all your heart,

With all your soul,

With all your mind,

And with all your strength.’”

 

ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Πρώτη ἐστίν Ἄκουε, Ἰσραήλ, Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν Κύριος εἷς ἐστιν

καὶ ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου.

 

This response of Jesus can be found also in Matthew, chapter 22:37-38, without the Shema cry for Israel to listen.  In Luke, chapter 10:27-28, Jesus responded that he had given the right answer to the question.  Here, in Mark it is separate from the love of neighbor, which is the 2nd commandment.  This Shema can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-5.  These verses have had a great influence on the Israelites as the great commandment that is recited often and written all over the place on their hands, forehead, and door posts.  It is both a morning and an evening prayer, something you say at home and when you are away from home.  The Israelites taught their children this simple prayer.  Jesus and the early Christian followers will repeat this prayer in the gospel stories of the New Testament as the great commandment of love of God.  This “Shema” became the basis of the Abrahamic religions, the great commandment of monotheism and love that must always be remembered.  Mark said that Jesus answered this Scribe (ἀπεκρίθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς) that the first commandment was (ὅτι Πρώτη ἐστίν) “Hear this (Ἄκουε,)!  O Israel (Ἰσραήλ,)! The Lord our God (Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς), the Lord is one (Κύριος εἷς ἐστιν)!”  He should love the Lord (καὶ ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον), his God (τὸν Θεόν σου) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίᾳ σου), his whole soul (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου), his whole mind (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου), and with all his strength (καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου).  This was the greatest and the first commandment, love God above all else with your whole powerful being, heart, soul, and mind.

The fear and confusion of the various countries (Mic 7:16-7:17)

“The nations shall see,

They shall be ashamed

Of all their might.

They shall lay their hands

On their mouths.

Their ears shall be deaf.

They shall lick dust,

Like a snake,

Like the crawling things

Of the earth.

They shall come trembling out

Of their fortresses.

They shall turn in dread

To Yahweh,

Our God.

They shall stand

In fear of you.”

The various nations or countries will see what is happening.  They will be ashamed of their own strength.  They will put their hands over their mouths, not speaking.  They will be deaf, not hearing.  They will be like creeping, crawling snakes, licking the dust of the earth.  They will come trembling out of their strong fortresses.  They will stand in dread and fear of Yahweh, our God.  The tables will be turned on them.