Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a peasant of Galilee. Galilee was hill country and life there was difficult. A drought or bad harvest could endanger whole villages. Infant mortality was about thirty percent, and only sixty percent of children lived beyond teenage years. The peasants' diet was poor: bread, olives, wine; lentils, a few greens, figs, an occasionally some cheese or yoghurt. Religious practices were simple. In the rural villages there were no scribes or priests. Families practiced the faith with great devotion, for their vulnerability meant they had little hope except in God.

Twice a day, upon rising and at the time of sleep, peasant families recited a simple prayer, the Shema Israel: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (This portion from the Torah is what Jesus refers to in Mark 12.29-30).

There was little time for extended prayers, and of course, no possibility of reading sacred texts, since no one could read. The prayers were simple, intense, and frequently recited. It reminded these peasants of the one thing that mattered most to them: to love God with every fiber of their being.

Intention: Today, I will gather my life and energy around the simple act of loving God. My head and hands may be busy with ideas and plans and work, but my heart can rest in God through a simple prayer I can return to over an over again.