Today’s Lectionary Readings: Psalm 42; Nehemiah 12:27-31a, 42b-47; Matthew 13:44-52; Revelation 11:1-19
I spent most of yesterday attending an event at Pepperdine University called “Finding Common Ground: Reconciliation Among the Children of Abraham”. The day was spent in a series of panels that addressed a variety of issues from three different perspectives: a Jewish perspective, a Muslim perspective, and a Christian perspective.
One of the more interesting moments of the day didn’t occur in a panel presentation; it occurred over lunch. After having explored various tools for interfaith dialogue during the workshops, a group of six of us was eating together when the topic of the conflict in the Middle East came up. In the course of the conversation, it was clear that several of the individuals who came from one side of the conflict were absolutely unyielding when it came to assessing the situation. They defined those persons on the other side of the issue as the sole source of the problem. One individual went so far as to say he could not imagine any scenario under which peace would even be a possibility!
With that conversation about land in the back of my mind, it was interesting to read today’s passage from Matthew, for the passage starts with a parable about land. “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic,” the passage reads, “- what a find – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field” (Matthew 13:44 from The Message).
There was a part of me that felt sad that individuals from all sides of the issue in the Middle East are so focused on the land that they are willing to sacrifice generation after generation to perpetual violence and death. It makes we wonder if they’ve lost sight of the treasure whose value exceeds that of the land itself. It would be wrong for me to make that judgment, however, as I (a person of another faith tradition from another part of the world) have no clue about what the land truly represents for folks on each side of the issue.
This issue challenges me to examine my own life and see if there are areas where I have become more focused on the equivalent of the land and lost sight of the hidden treasure. Perhaps the passage will invite you to explore those places in your own life as well. Til next time…