The Readings for the 20th Friday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Bl. Jordan of Pisa, friar and priest
Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.Ezekiel 37:11b
WHAT WAS OUR LORD DOING, amending the Sh’ema? You might not notice it if you quickly read through the text in English. Yet, compare:
Deuteronomy 6:5 (RSVCE) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Matthew 22:37 (RSVCE) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Might and Mind sound close to each other (in English)… but not quite. The Greek in the LXX uses dynamis (might or power) following the Hebrew which uses m’odecha, but in Matthew Jesus says dianoia, mind or insight. All mainstream English bibles follow the text here, although a couple of fringe Bibles adventure a correction (not all, however). Luke retains the use of Mind but adds (back) strength as well. Likewise, Mark. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Since Matthew was writing to a largely Jewish audience, they would not have missed this change. Even if Luke and Mark have both “mind” and “might” Matthew – with his audience – stuck with only “mind”. What can we see here?
I’m going to stick with the Greek διανοίᾳ dianoia being the important thing.
Thayer’s Lexicon notes that sometimes this word was used in the LXX for “heart” (Hebrew, Lev or L’vav). But we already have a “heart” in this verse so, is there a reason to have “heart” and “heart again”? (Or in the case of Luke/Mark, “heart, soul, strength, and also heart”.)
There is a clue in the LXX, in the Prophet Jeremiah. In Hebrew it’s Jeremiah 31:33. God promises to write the New Covenant on the “hearts and minds”. In The Greek (because of the way the text is laid out) has it in 38:33. It uses the same words, dianoia and cardia. And there, I think, is echo that Matthew’s Jewish audience would hear in this text. Yes, it’s the traditional Sh’ema, the Covenant, but augmented with the promise of a New Covenant being expounded by the Lord and written directly on our hearts and minds instead of on tablets of stone.
The use of dianoia also directs one toward contemplative prayer. To love the Lord (using the Greek agape) is to welcome and to conform oneself to him: to apprehend in the mind and in the heart and then to make all of one’s life to be one with him. We can only achieve this through the Grace of God and the Sacraments.
St John Eudes, whom we also celebrate today, wrote:
Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy Eucharist they are brought to perfection.From a “Treatise on the Admirable Heart of Jesus” by Saint John Eudes, priest (2nd Reading at Matins for his feast).
Love him with all your being and unite yourself wholly to him. He will draw you deeper into that union until you become one with him.
Then, and only then, will the dry bones rise up as Ezekiel has prophesied. Hope is not lost, but he will restore all things in himself.