Our first reading for Mass this week contains the defining prayer of the Jewish tradition: the Shma. In the Gospel, when asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus, a pious Jew, recites this prayer from the book of Deuteronomy. We Christians too claim—or better, are claimed by—this great prayer. But what does it mean?

Mass Readings

Reading 1 – Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Psalm – Psalm 18:2-51
Reading 2 – Hebrews 7:23-28
Gospel – Mark 12:28-34